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Consumers (09-10-2007)

Results of the public consultation on the Green Paper for the Review of the Consumer Acquis

On 9 October 2007 the European Commission released the results of the consultation on the Green Paper for the Review of the Consumer Acquis. The consultation was launched on 8 February 2007 with the publication of the Green Paper. The consultation attracted a high number of responses (more than 300) from a wide range of stakeholders. What has emerged most importantly is the call from the majority of respondents for a "horizontal" (cross-sector) framework directive on consumer contractual rights, applicable both to domestic and cross-border transactions. This would be based on full harmonization targeting the issues that may raise potential barriers to trade for business and/or deterring consumers from buying cross-border. The claim is that an internal market justification would be key for any legislative follow-up. In addition, this legislative tool should be complemented with a "vertical" (sector-by-sector) revision of the existing sector-specific Directives such as, for instance, the Timeshare and Package Travel Directives. A second important result highlighted in the responses is the strong support for a revamping of the consumer acquis to make it more consistent and coherent, with the introduction of common definitions of consumers/professionals and delivery, rules of withdrawal rights and the insertion at EU level of a list of unfair contract terms (a black list with terms that are banned completely) as well as a second list of terms (terms presumed to be unfair).

The stakeholder dialogue on the consumer acquis initiated by the Green Paper does not end with the publication of the results. The Commission will hold a full-day stakeholder conference on the review of the consumer acquis on November 14, 2007. The Conference will primarily aim at collecting stakeholders' practical experiences and views on the application of EU consumer protection legislation, with a view to identifying regulatory problems, and improving the functioning of the EU retail market. Commissioner Kuneva will address the conference.
On 9 October 2007, the Commission also published a consultation document on the review of the Doorstep Selling Directive as well as the summary of the responses to the consultation on the Price Indication Directive. The Price Indication consultation was launched in June 2006 and attracted less than 50 responses. Based on the comments and observations which governments and stakeholders have put forward, the Commission does not see any pressing need at this moment to revise the Price Indication Directive. The Commission may, however, decide to take initiatives involving cooperation with the Member States to improve compliance and identify shortcomings in the current system.
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