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Health & Consumer Voice - March - 2011 Edition

Commission seeks opinions on the future of collective actions

On 4 February, the European Commission launched a public consultation aimed at achieving a coherent approach towards collective redress in the European Union. Contributions can be sent until 30 April 2011.

Collective redress is not a new concept in the EU. Current EU law already provides for the possibility of pursuing collective actions for injunctions in the field of consumer law, but the national legal systems vary considerably concerning financial markets, competition, environmental protection, and other areas of law. The situation is even more diverse among Member States when several consumers or businesses want to seek damages in the same case. Injunctive collective redress (aimed at stopping illegal behaviour) is indeed a normal feature in the EU's consumer legislation, but as regards collective actions for damages (also called compensatory actions), some Member States have them, while others do not.

The Commission will therefore attempt to identify common legal principles that should underpin collective actions across the EU by launching this horizontal public consultation entitled: “Towards a more coherent European approach to collective redress". The purpose of this consultation is to identify common legal principles, should a future Commission initiative be presented on collective redress.

The Commission will consider all views to identify whether collective redress may or may not be a suitable subject for EU legislation, taking into account the principles of subsidiarity, proportionality and effectiveness. A hearing will be held to complete the consultation. The Commission will then publish a Communication on the results. The final decision on whether new EU legislation is needed will be based on the consultation’s outcome and, if appropriate, after a detailed impact assessment exploring all possible actions.

The consultation paper is available at: