The European Commission adopted in 2012 the European Consumer Agenda - its strategic vision for EU consumer policy for the years to come. The Consumer Agenda aims to maximise consumer participation and trust in the market. The European Consumer Agenda replaced the Consumer Policy Strategy 2007-2013.
Out of 62 measures for European consumers presented in the Consumer Agenda two years ago, 52 have been completed and the remaining 10 are underway – reveals the Second report on consumer policy published by the European Commission.
This report on consumer policy covers the period from January 2012 to December 2013 and responds to the request of European Parliament to inform periodically on how consumer interests are integrated in the relevant areas of activity of the European Union.
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The measures presented in the report cover the four pillars of the Consumer Agenda:
Promoting consumer safety
Product safety is a key result of consumer policy. In 2013, the European Commission adopted a Product Safety and Market Surveillance Package that aims to further improve product safety, in particular through enhanced product identification and traceability. At the same time, the Commission has adopted measures to reinforce the safety of the food chain. Regarding the safety of , new rules entered into force in mid-2013.
Enhancing knowledge of consumer rights
New interactive tools were developed to inform, educate and help consumers fully participate in the Single Market, such as the Consumer Classroom.
Strengthening the enforcement of consumer rules
Enforcement of consumer rights has been strengthened. The network of national consumer protection authorities intensified its cooperation by carrying out coordinated actions against breaches of EU consumer law in the form of checks of websites (sweeps). Thanks to the Directive on Alternative Dispute Resolution and the Regulation on On-line Dispute Resolution adopted in 2013 simple, fast and low-cost out-of-court procedures for consumers to seek redress will also soon become available throughout Europe.
Integrating consumer interests into the key sectoral policies
Finally, consumers' rights have been reinforced through a series of new legislation in the sectors such as telecommunications, digital, energy, transport and food. The EU has also adopted measures to increase transparency and access to retail financial services and facilitate switching of bank accounts.
The cut-off date of the Report was 31 December 2013, and drafting was finalised on 12 March 2014.
The First Report on Consumer Policy was published in 2012.
Empowerment of consumers is the main overall objective of the EU Consumer Policy Strategy as described in the Commission Working Paper Consumer Empowerment in the EU . The EU aims to empower EU consumers through:
Awareness of consumer rights and means of redress.
Knowledge of consumers' capacities, information and assertiveness help develop adequate consumer protection policies. This knowledge is summarised by the Consumer Empowerment Index and Eurobarometer report 342 (Country fact sheets).