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Cross-border enforcement and cooperation (CPC)

Responsibility for the enforcement of EU consumer protection law lies with national authorities. The European Commission coordinates the cooperation between these authorities to ensure that consumer rights legislation is applied and enforced in a consistent manner across the Single Market.

The proposal for a new cooperation framework

On 25 May 2016 the Commission put forward a proposal for the reform of the Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) Regulation, which governs the powers of enforcement authorities and the manner in which they can cooperate. The reform addresses the need to better enforce EU consumer law, especially in the fast evolving digital sphere.

The proposal for an improved Regulation will equip enforcement authorities with the powers they need to work together faster and more efficiently. Authorities will be able to request information from domain registrars and banks to detect the identity of the responsible trader, carry out mystery shopping to check geographical discrimination or after-sales conditions, and to order the immediate take-down of websites hosting scams. The harmful practices covered will also include advertisement campaigns of short duration that may have a lasting impact, by trapping consumers in unwanted subscriptions.

The Commission will be able to launch and coordinate common actions to address Union-wide problematic practices. A one-stop-shop approach to consumer law is proposed where enforcement authorities will notify the businesses concerned of the issues, asking them to change their practices and, if necessary, to compensate the affected consumers.

To detect market problems earlier, organisations with an interest in consumer protection will be able to signal bad cross-borders practices to enforcers and to the European Commission.

Finally, the list of laws to which this modernised framework applies will be updated to ensure that all the relevant consumer protection provisions, especially in the transport and retail financial services sectors, are included.

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The current cooperation framework

Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 on consumer protection cooperation (the CPC Regulation) lays down a cooperation framework to allow national authorities from all countries in the European Economic Area to jointly address breaches of consumer rules when the trader and the consumer are established in different countries.

The CPC Regulation links national Competent Authorities to form a European enforcement network, the "CPC Network". In each country a Single Liaison Office ensures the coordination of national authorities.

The cooperation is applicable to consumer rules covering various areaspdf Choose translations of the previous link , such as unfair commercial practices, e-commerce, comparative advertising, package holidays, online selling, and passenger rights.

In operation since 2007, it facilitates the exchange of best practices and provides a mutual assistance mechanism. The network is also regularly carrying out EU-wide screenings of websites ("sweeps") to check whether a given sector is complying with consumer rules. In 2014, a further step was made with coordinated positions in areas of common interest requiring traders concerned by widespread problematic practices to change them across the Union (for example, in the field of car rental or "in-app" offers in online games). 

Individuals who encounter problems in cross-border shopping can turn to the European Consumer Centres network .

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