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Consumers (10-03-2009)

Meglena Kuneva to chat with consumers online about their rights

To mark the 10th anniversary of the European Consumer Day, EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva host a live webchat on 13 March 2009 (at 15h00 CET) with citizens from across the EU about their rights and their concerns as consumers.

The webchat is intended to give citizens across the EU the chance to ask the Commissioner direct questions. Commissioner Kuneva will be ready to talk about issues which are becoming of growing concern to consumers in today's uncertain economic climate, as they try to shop for better and fairer deals. These include unfair sales practices (such as hidden charges), or safety of the daily consumer products (such as toys or childcare products or electrical appliances). Online visitors may also be interested to learn how to get help when they shop cross-border and something goes wrong, or what the EU is doing concretely to make sure that they can truly enjoy the freedom of shopping online.

Members of the public can join the live chat on 13 March from 15h00 – 16h30 CET. The chat will be moderated in 12 languages: questions asked in Bulgarian, Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese or Spanish will be answered in the same language. To join the live chat, visit: http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/chat_13march_en.htm. Questions can also be asked in advance by sending an e-mail to SANCO-WEBCHAT-13-03@ec.europa.eu. These questions will be answered once the webchat starts. A transcript of all the questions and answers will be posted afterwards on the webchat page.

A European Union dedicated to the protection of consumer rights

Celebrated annually on 15 March since 1983, the International Consumer Day is about promoting and protecting consumer rights. For the past 10 years, the European Consumer Day has been held alongside International Consumer Day. The aim is to raise the awareness of the rights that EU consumers have, and to give more them more power by encouraging them to use these rights.

The European Commission is committed to empowering EU consumers. The Commission is watching consumer markets, improving existing legislation, and working closely with national governments who enforce existing consumer law, in an effort to ensure that consumers across all 27 Member States enjoy the same rights, regardless of whether they buy from a shop round the corner or online from another country. A part of these efforts is the proposed Consumer Rights Directive, aiming to give consumers a set of clear EU-wide rights as well as to cut the red tape which is holding business within national borders, denying consumers access to more products at competitive prices

A healthy market requires confident, empowered consumers who do not hesitate to exercise their rights, switch services and products, and lodge complaints when the products and services are below standard. Such consumer action drives innovation and inspires suppliers to perform better in order to meet consumer demand. A healthy market also requires traders who are not held back by regulatory barriers when they want to sell to other EU countries, and who have clear, straightforward information on which sales practices or contract terms are not allowed anywhere in the EU.

The European Consumer Day is an opportunity to educate consumers and traders on these topics for the benefit of the European economy, at a time when Europe is battling to overcome the economic slowdown.

To find out more:

Webchat with Commissioner Kuneva:
http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/chat_13march_en.htm

Commissioner Kuneva's site:
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/kuneva/index_en.htm

Citizens' pages on consumer rights in the EU
http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/citizen/index_en.htm

Are you getting a fair deal as a consumer?
http://www.isitfair.eu

EU consumer affairs for policy professionals:
http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/pro/index_en.htm