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Consumers (26-09-2005)

Commissioner Kyprianou calls for binding agreement on better EU consumer law making

Markos Kyprianou, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, today called on the European Parliament and Council to commit to using the “better lawmaking toolkit” being developed by the European Contract Law initiative. Speaking in London at a UK Presidency conference on better lawmaking, Mr. Kyprianou pledged that the Commission would use the “lawmaking toolkit’ when it produced proposals for laws, but said other EU institutions had an interest in making use of it too. “If we want the final product to offer coherence and quality, we will also need a clear and binding commitment from Council and the Parliament to use this tool,” the Commissioner stated.

The onus is on the Commission, which is leading the European Contract Law initiative, to ensure the “lawmaking toolkit’ (known as the Common Frame of Reference) actually contains the tools that EU legislators need. Nonetheless, Mr. Kyprianou has expressed confidence that the Commission can create a process which will deliver the appropriate results. The Commission has just adopted its First Annual Progress Report on the European Contract Law and the review of the acquis in order to update the Council and the European Parliament and to outline the way forward.

Contract law underpins all internal market transactions in Europe - whether it be business to business transactions or consumers’ shopping. EU laws such as the Sale of Consumer Goods Directive, the Unfair Contract Terms Directive or the Package Travel Directive regulate certain specific aspects of Member States' contract laws, but the translation of EU law into national law in this area is sometimes messy. In 2003 the Commission proposed an Action Plan setting out a road map for a more coherent approach to contract law by the EU and in 2004 a process was launched to create a Common Frame of Reference, that will provide a handbook of EU legal rules on contract law, and proposals for simplifying them.

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