Joint Research Centre - European Commission

The European Commission's in-house science service
European Commission


Consumers who consider themselves knowledgeable have higher basic skills and better capacity to read logos and labels than others.© Davide Guglielmo (stock.xnchg)

New index gives snapshot of EU consumers


The Commission recently presented the Consumer Empowerment Index, a unique measure of consumer empowerment describing perceptions and behaviours of more than 56,000 consumers of 29 European countries along three main dimensions: consumer skills, awareness of consumer legislation and consumer engagement.

The study was prepared by the JRC and the Health and Consumers Directorate-General. Based on a special Eurobarometer Survey, the report shows that high income is not a synonymous of high empowerment – high income consumers tended to be at the same time more knowledgeable and more careless than others. Male respondents ranked systematically better than female in comparisons of skills, awareness and consumer engagement. Consumers using the Internet had significantly stronger consumer skills than those who did not.

Consumer Empowerment Index - Map of Europe

Consumer Empowerment Index: distance from EU average (EU27=100)© EU, 2011

The survey also showed that when put to the test, consumers who considered themselves knowledgeable had higher basic skills and better capacity to read logos and labels than others. This confidence could, however, backfire: confident consumers tended not to read completely and carefully terms and conditions when signing contracts.

The Consumer Empowerment Index is a pilot exercise, aimed at obtaining a first snapshot of the state of consumer empowerment as measured by the Eurobarometer survey. It is meant to foster the debate on the determinants of empowerment and their importance for protecting consumers.

The results of this survey were presented on 11 March 2011 at the European Consumer Summit.