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Chapter 23 - Consumer protection
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 December 2004

Background

The acquis for the chapter on consumers and health protection is composed of the following areas: misleading advertising, product liability, doorstep sales, consumer credit, dangerous imitations, package travel and holiday tours, product safety, unfair terms in consumer contracts, time-share, distance selling, comparative advertising, prices on foodstuffs, guarantees for sale of consumer goods and injunctions. It also contains a Council Decision establishing a Community system of information on home and leisure accidents (EHLASS) and three Commission decisions on a consumer committee and scientific committees. Two further Commission decisions adopted in February 2000 concerning on-the-spot checks in the veterinary field carried out by Commission experts in the member states and in third countries complete the acquis for the chapter.

Consumer protection should be considered as a horizontal policy aimed at promoting consumer interests in the internal market and in other community policies.

The comprehension and implementation of consumer protection legislation appears to be particular important in an economy in transition (from state economy toward market economy) as is the case for most of the candidates countries.

Moreover, the harmonisation of consumer protection rules is also an essential element to eliminate market barriers and ensure an integrated economic space where services and goods can circulate with the same standard of safety and quality and where consumers can benefit from similar high levels of protection of their rights. The implementation of these standards and the elimination of market barriers are particularly important in the accession countries. In fact in these countries the need to grant consumer rights and to insure free competition and circulation of goods is still higher than in the EU.

The Copenhagen European Council in 1993 clearly recognised the importance of the harmonisation of the acquis in the field of consumer protection considering it a clear priority in the process of accession. Also in the European agreements, which may be considered a first step of the accession process and the basis for the extension of the internal market to the candidates countries, the need to harmonise consumer protection rules is very clear.

In general, formal legal transposition of the community acquis is proceeding quite satisfactorily. Further efforts for alignment are needed for the new acquis in the areas of injunctions for the protection of consumerís interests and for certain aspects of the sale of consumer goods and associated guarantees. However, all the candidates stated that they will implement the new acquis and provided a calendar for the transposition of community rules into their national legal system.

State of Play

The chapter was closed with 10 countries in December 2002. The chapter has been closed with Bulgaria and Romania in December 2004.

All the candidates stated that they are ready to fully implement all the community acquis before the date of accession with no exceptions or transitional periods.

Compliance with the acquis

The latest assessment of each candidate country’s compliance with the acquis under this chapter heading, can be found in the 2004 Regular Reports and in the Comprehensive Monitoring Reports, available at:
http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/archives/key_documents/reports_2004_en.htm.

Country by country

Bulgaria

  • Chapter opened: October 2000
  • Status: closed in December 2004 (provisionally closed in October 2000)
  • Transitional arrangements: none

Cyprus (New Member State)

  • Chapter opened: April 1999
  • Status: Closed December 2002 (provisionally closed in May 1999)
  • Transitional arrangements: none

Czech Republic (New Member State)

  • Chapter opened: April 1999
  • Status: Closed December 2002 (provisionally closed in May 1999)
  • Transitional arrangements: none

Estonia (New Member State)

  • Chapter opened: April 1999
  • Status: Closed December 2002 (provisionally closed in May 1999)
  • Transitional arrangements: none

Hungary (New Member State)

  • Chapter opened: April 1999
  • Status: Closed December 2002 (provisionally closed in June 1999)
  • Transitional arrangements: none

Latvia (New Member State)

  • Chapter opened: October 2000
  • Status: Closed December 2002 (provisionally closed in October 2000)
  • Transitional arrangements: none

Lithuania (New Member State)

  • Chapter opened: February 2001
  • Status: Closed December 2002 (provisionally closed in February 2001)
  • Transitional arrangements: none

Malta (New Member State)

  • Chapter opened: October 2000
  • Status: Closed December 2002 (provisionally closed in October 2000)
  • Transitional arrangements: none

Poland (New Member State)

  • Chapter opened: April 1999
  • Status: Closed December 2002 (provisionally closed in May 1999)
  • Transitional arrangements: none

Romania

  • Chapter opened: July 2001
  • Status: closed in December 2004 (provisionally closed in July 2001)
  • Transitional arrangements: none

Slovakia (New Member State)

  • Chapter opened: October 2000
  • Status: Closed December 2002 (provisionally closed in October 2000)
  • Transitional arrangements: none

Slovenia (New Member State)

  • Chapter opened: April 1999
  • Status: Closed December 2002 (provisionally closed in May 1999)
  • Transitional arrangements: none
- updated: 17/12/2004
 
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