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This surveys was produced by INRA (Europe) European Coordination Office for Health & Consumer Protection DG and represents INRA (Europe) European Coordination Office views on the "Eurobarometer 47.1 - Consumer Policy." These views have not been adopted or in any way approved by the Commission and should not be relied upon as a statement of the Commission's or Health & Consumer Protection DG's views.

The European Commission does not guarantee the accuracy of the data included in this survey, nor does it accept responsibility for any use made thereof.

Eurobarometer 47.1 - Consumer Policy - Summary

This summary gives a brief preliminary description of the results of the EB 47.1 at the European level. A deeper analysis will be undertaken before Mid-May.

These results should be treated with care as there might be large differences in the results between the individual countries as well as questions that generated high DK percentages.

The percentages reported are generally the highest percentages that were found.

- When interviewed about the evolution of the quality of food, European citizens highlighted that

The quality of fresh meat tends to get worse, 43%

Bread and bakery products tend to improve, 37%

- The information provided by supermarkets and shops is mostly in the interest of consumers, 37%, whereas that of producer groups is mostly in the interest of the industry, 55%. Scientist are most often thought to tell the truth about the quality of products, 33%.

- Current levels of human activity need to be very significantly changed if the general deterioration of the environment is to be stopped, 66%. Economic development must be ensured, but the environment protected at the same time, 71%. Factories releasing dangerous chemical products into the air or water is most often mentioned as cause of serious danger to the environment, 68%. 88% supports the proposal to implement tougher legislation to control companies which pollute the environment, as a way to deal with environmental matters.

- European citizens are aware of the role of the EU in the definition of strict rules with regard to product labelling - 33%. EU citizens urge the adoption of measures to ensure that every European citizen has an easy access to the legal system in other Member States in case of consumer problems.

- The main problem of dissatisfied consumers is that they are not well aware of their rights - 51% and the cost of taking legal action against someone is too high for them, - 50%.

- On the question of education, EU citizens think that :

a) Schools prepare children for life

- fairly well, 42%

- fairly badly, 34%

b) The EU could play a role in educating consumers by publishing information on consumers rights within the EU, 60%

- Europeans are particularly concerned with the safety of food - 68% and medicines - 67%. The vast majority is convinced that electrical appliances are safe, 74% and more than one third thinks food is not safe, 35%. Especially in advertising, not enough attention is drawn to the safety of products and services for the consumer - 67%.

- The questions on services of public utility show that for 80% of EU citizens the electricity supply in their country is of good quality, whereas 34% finds courts and justice of bad quality.

- The questionnaire analysed deeply the question of liberalisation : 61% of the Europeans is aware of the opening to competition of a number of services, although for most of the services mentioned (except telephone services and air travel) the vast majority of the respondents has not seen any price cuts, improvement of the quality, a wider choice of services, or an improvement of consumers interests protection. More than 70% considers the opening to competition a good thing with regard to both quality and price of the services mentioned.

- In the frame of the analysis on liberalisation, particular care was paid to the minimum service.

EU citizens consider that the following services should be guaranteed to everyone:

- water 88%

- electricity 80%

- collection of household rubbish 63%

- Two thirds of the Europeans think the EU should try to forbid the sale of bad quality products in Third countries.

- The large space of the questionnaire devoted to the EURO shows that four fifths of the Europeans would like to be better informed about the reasons and advantages of the single currency in Europe. And about half the respondents thinks that with the single currency Europe will be more economically competitive world-wide and more politically powerful. The highest proportion of respondents feels that the financial institutions should pay for the transition through their profits, 45%.

- When asked about consumer protection standards, three quarters of the interviewed say that these should be harmonised in the EU.

- On financial services, 38% of EU citizens consider the lack of information an obstacle preventing consumers from using them anywhere in the EU. Cash is the preferred method for paying for important purchases both within and outside the EU, because it is considered to be a more convenient method of payment.

86% has never made a long distance payment (via a computer, minitel, etc.)

4% has, without using a pin-code

8% has, with using a pin-code

More than half the respondents have never had the opportunity to pay this way and more than a quarter is not interested in paying this way.

More than half the respondents would not be ready to use a pre-paid card both in their own country as in foreign countries.

Finally, 81% of the European citizens say it is necessary to take measures in the EU to protect consumers in the financial services sector.

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