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Consumers (03-12-2009)

New Guide for law enforcers stamping out unfair trading practices

The European Commission is publishing today a new guide on the application of the Directive on Unfair Commercial Practices.
The Directive, adopted in 2005, is a landmark piece of legislation which protects EU consumers from a broad range of unfair trading practices, and especially from misleading and aggressive sales techniques. The Directive aims to help consumers make informed choices and to create a level playing field for businesses across the EU. Some of the practices blacklisted by the Directive include fake "free" offers, bait advertising or inertia selling.
Since the Directive was adopted, national enforcers have found it difficult to apply some of the rules, including how to apply them in a uniform way across Europe. Based on their experience and on other feedback collected from national consumer authorities and consumer advocates, the European Commission has put together this new guide. The aim is to ensure a common understanding of those provisions of the Directive which have been considered unclear, so that consumers are equally protected wherever they shop in the EU and so that businesses understand what to expect regardless of where in the EU they market their goods.
Some examples of the issues now clarified by the guide include: when social media and price comparison websites are considered to be covered by the rules, when exactly a commercial offer can be considered "free", or whether "copycat" packaging should be regarded as an unfair practice under the Directive.
The full text of the guide is available at:
To find out more about which practices are banned under the Directive, please visit also