10 better deals for 500 million consumers
Check out the top 10 achievements of EU consumer policy that tackle your everyday concerns and reflect our common European values.
"I bought it online and now I have a problem"Resolving online disputes faster and cheaper More
Resolving online disputes faster and cheaper
Today 32% of consumers face problems with defective goods and services. These disputes often end up unresolved or in costly court proceedings.
From January 2016 a service to resolve contractual disputes will be available throughout Europe following a new law voted in June 2013.
Consumers will be able to log on to a Europe-wide online platform and submit their complaint in their own language no matter what product or service they bought and no matter where they bought it — home or abroad.
The platform, operating in all the official European languages, will link all the national alternative dispute resolution entities, allowing them to handle the disputes entirely online. Consumers will, therefore, be able to have their disputes dealt with in an easy, fast and low cost manner without going to court.
"Consult the legislation"
"I learn that at school"Never too early to know your rightsMore
Never too early to know your rights
During the first six months, over 75 000 teachers visited the website, and by December 2013 the site had more than 650 teaching aids available.
The EU launched the Consumer Classroom in 2013 to help secondary school teachers prepare lessons for their pupils about the consumer issues of today. The idea is to give them useful teaching aids on important subjects still absent from formal education at school.
Teachers can already browse through hundreds of resources, including material relating to sustainable consumption, health and nutrition and safety on the Internet (amongst many others).
Turning today’s children into tomorrow’s savvy shoppers will help build a better marketplace for all.X
"I need better access to my digital world"'Staying connected' affordable for all More
'Staying connected' affordable for all
Gone will be the days when a call to your best friend who lives 10km over the border in another EU country costs more than a call to your mum living 300km away in the same country.
Digital services still vary across Europe and this means that consumers aren’t benefiting from a single and open market. The result is that consumers pay a high price for their calls across borders or when they use data and voice communications while travelling in the EU.
In September 2013, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a law that lets consumers choose the best available offer on the market, regardless of national borders. The plan is to make Europe a ‘connected continent’ and let consumers enjoy the benefits of lower prices, more choice, more innovation and better quality services.
Maximum roaming tariffs (excl. VAT) for calls, downloads and texts in Europe continue to decrease.
1 July 2012 1 July 2013 1 July 2014 Outgoing voice calls (per minute) €0.29 €0.24 €0.19 Incoming voice calls (per minute) €0.08 €0.07 €0.05 Outgoing texts (per SMS message) €0.09 €0.08 €0.06 Online (data download, per MB) €0.70 €0.45 €0.20
Find out more
- The EU’s Digital Agenda: the EU’s strategy to help digital technologies deliver sustainable economic growth.
- The ‘Connected Continent’: the move to a single telecoms market
"For me no bank account means closed doors"Giving everyone the right to a bank account More
Giving everyone the right to a bank account
Millions of Europeans don’t have access to bank accounts and cannot perform basic operations such as transfers or withdrawals.
We don’t realise it but a bank account opens the door to so many things in life and most of us just take it for granted.
This is why the EU adopted a proposal for new legislation in 2013 to make bank accounts accessible to all, the terms understandable, and switching a bank account from one bank to another easier. This is a major step towards a real single market for retail financial services bringing numerous benefits to EU citizens.
By providing for a right to a basic payment account irrespective of a citizen’s place of residence or financial situation, the obstacles faced by many in accessing basic cross-border banking services are being removed.
The proposed law also substantially improves the transparency of bank account fees.
Find out more
"Green should mean green"Fighting misleading environmental claims More
Fighting misleading environmental claims
What can make a product 'green'?
- its composition;
- the way it has been produced;
- the way it can be disposed of;
- the reduction of energy or pollution expected as a result of its use.
Sustainability is an issue that affects us all, whether you are a climate sceptic or a convinced ecologist. It’s a fact that rising consumption has increased the pressure on the environment and created greater competition for resources.
Consumers should not be confronted with misleading and unfounded environmental claims. Consumers should be able to more easily identify the truly sustainable choice, and have the right to know the environmental impacts throughout the life cycle of the products they intend to buy.
To protect consumers from untrue environmental claims and make it easier for businesses to market their positive environmental efforts, the EU created the Multi-stakeholder Dialogue on Environmental Claims in 2013.
Working together with the industry will not only help consumers in 'buying green' but will also safeguard real and fair competition between traders 'making green'.X
"The price I see is not always the price I have to pay"Making sure websites are respecting consumers More
Making sure websites are respecting consumers
In 2012: 79% of European consumers used online music services and 60% played online games.
In the summer of 2012, the consumer protection authorities checked 330 websites selling digital content products (games, books, videos and music). These checks, also known as ‘sweeps’, yielded some interesting results, and highlighted non-compliance with the law in more than half of them.
Following intervention by the enforcement authorities, 80% of the 330 websites are now in line with EU consumer legislation.
Issues included unfair contract terms or unclear information about what happens when you cancel a download in progress. In many cases there were no address details for the service provider (not even an email address), meaning consumers had no way of contacting the seller should anything go wrong. A study also revealed that certain games — particularly those aimed at children and advertised as ‘free’ — actually required payment at a later stage, leading to significant bills for their parents. The authorities highlighted this issue and held talks with leading app-store owners and game app developers in the hope of eliminating this practice.
Find out more
"I want to know and not just hope it’s safe"Over 16 000 dangerous products removed from the EU market in 10 years More
Over 16 000 dangerous products removed from the EU market in 10 years
It is good to know that you can sleep more easily knowing that there is someone making sure that products are safe for you and your family.
In 2013, 648 dangerous toys and childcare articles were removed from the EU market. This is just part of the 16 658 dangerous products identified and banned in Europe over the last 10 years.
Did you know that thanks to the RAPEX China system, the Chinese authorities have investigated 2 405 RAPEX notifications and traced them back to the manufacturer responsible?
Via a system called RAPEX, inspectors in all EU countries are alerted about measures taken in another country against a dangerous product. This then starts a chain reaction in every other European country.
Manufacturers, importers and distributors will from now on have a clear and defined responsibility for the products they sell. Consumer products will also be traceable throughout the supply chain, enabling a swifter and more effective response to any safety concernsX
"Who can help me if something goes wrong with my cross-border purchase?"The ECCs — A European solution to your problems More
The ECCs — A European solution to your problems
Two thirds of cases dealt with by the ECC-Net had a positive outcome.
The European Consumer Centres, better known as the ECC-Net, provide European citizens with free consumer advice on cross-border purchase problems. They help consumers solve problems whilst shopping abroad (in all EU countries plus Norway and Iceland).
"I am very happy that, thanks to you, there is hope for the common man when challenging large organizations. We have now been refunded"
Client using ECC-Net in Estonia to obtain a refund for plane tickets purchased twice following a mistaken cancellation of the original journey by the airline.
Since 2010, the ECC-Net has been contacted 293 838 times by consumers asking for advice and help, and handled more than 120 555 complaints from those that experienced problems purchasing goods or services from a trader in a different country.
Complaints tend to be divided into two main groups, those concerning digital purchases made abroad, and issues arising from physical travel to another country.
In 2013 for example, around a third of all complaints concerned the transport sector, in particular air transport followed by car rental problems.
The other top complaints related to household equipment, issues related to the purchase of tickets for sporting and cultural events, and time-shares.
Find out more
"I don’t want rabbits suffering for my beauty"We have stopped animal testing for cosmetic purposes in Europe More
We have stopped animal testing for cosmetic purposes in Europe
The decision to ban animal testing for cosmetics in Europe as from 11 March 2013 sent an important signal to the world that EU citizens attach great importance to animal welfare. And where Europe leads, other countries have followed: India, South Korea and Israel have also instigated a ban.
Europe sets the standard. No more animals are to be used to test new cosmetics.
Companies can still produce new and exciting beauty products for consumers but in future they’ll just have to prove that they are safe without testing them on animals, and there are solutions available to them to do just that.
Firstly, they can use ingredients already known to be safe. They do not require any new testing.
Secondly, if companies need to produce new data about the safety of an ingredient, they can use available non-animal test methods. More than 40 have been validated so far.
These more modern alternatives for new cosmetics testing can offer results that are far more relevant to today’s consumer and it’s often cheaper and more efficient to obtain them too.X
"How do I spend less on my heating and electricity?"Giving you the power over your energy bill More
Giving you the power over your energy bill
Did you know that 30% of all electricity in Europe is consumed by households?
It is possible to have a more sustainable environment and make cost savings — up to €1 000 per year— by understanding how much energy a household consumes in different activities and pays for the energy actually used.
Consumer representatives, regulators and industry have worked together to offer simple and more functional electronic energy bills.
Example of an energy e-billX