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Consumers (29-05-2006)

Second pan-EU conference on making better laws for consumers takes place in Vienna

The second European conference on the Review of EU Consumer Legislation and the Common Frame of Reference to improve consumer law, was organised by the Austrian Presidency on May 26 in Vienna. The conference brought together some 180 legal experts, consumer organisations and business representatives from across the EU as part of a process aiming to improve consumer law.
 
Since 2001, the Commission has been gathering opinions from law-makers and stakeholders from all Member States how to improve EU contract legislation, in particular consumer legislation. The aim is to ensure that the so-called ‘Common Frame of Reference’ to be developed, contains the tools that legislators need when revising existing laws and adopting new laws. The process should help remove obstacles to trade and promote better regulation and competitiveness by improving harmonisation across the EU.
 
The conference was an opportunity to explore how the CFR can contribute to the current review of eight main pieces of EU consumer legislation. This process is known as the ‘review of the consumer acquis’. The Commission is to issue a Communication on the review in late-2006. The legislation under review concerns areas such as package travel, unfair contract terms and doorstep selling.
 
The Commission started the process of preparing a Common Frame of Reference in 2004, and has recently focussed specifically on consumer matters. The CFR is conceived as a legislative toolkit that will be used by the Commission when preparing its proposals.
 
The Vienna conference was the second major stakeholder conference on the CFR – the first was held in London on 26 September 2005. The Commission will present its second annual report on the CFR process later in 2006.
 
More information:
 
EU contract law:
http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/cons_int/safe_shop/fair_bus_pract/cont_law/index_en.htm
 
Review of the consumer acquis:
http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/cons_int/safe_shop/acquis/index_en.htm