The European Commission will launch two market studies to investigate
in-depth the reasons behind the findings and to identify policy remedies. They
concern internet service provision (in general, the third worst ranking
market where the highest percentage of consumers have experienced problems and
where prices diverge widely across the EU) and meat, (the most
frequently purchased product which makes up a large part of consumers' budgets
but the goods market with the lowest EU ranking).
This is the fourth edition of the Commission's study, but the first which
ranks as many as 50 different markets (accounting for more than 60 percent of
the consumer household budget) in all EU countries.
The Scoreboard is based on a market monitoring survey measuring the reported
experience and opinions of consumers with recent purchasing experience in each
market. Recent purchases for most items means in the past 12 months, but
for less frequent purchases, such as cars, it is within the past two years.
The market ranking is based on a total score made up of the following
- Ease of comparing goods and services. The markets where EU
consumers found it most difficult to compare offers were banking, telecoms,
utilities (water, gas and electricity supply) real estate services and legal
services (including accounting and notary services). Books, magazines and
newspapers have the highest comparability.
- Consumers' trust in retailers' compliance with consumer rules: the
markets which are particularly distrusted by EU consumers are investments,
pensions and securities, second-hand cars and real estate services.
- Problems and complaints. The markets where EU consumers experienced
most problems are internet access, railways, real estate services and
investments, pensions and securities. Those with the highest number of
complaints are mobile telephony, internet access, new cars and bank current
- Overall satisfaction and expectations. In general, 57% of European
consumers believe that markets deliver to the desired level. The highest levels
of dissatisfaction exist for investments, pensions and securities, real estate
services and railways. Cultural goods and services provide the highest
satisfaction to EU consumers.
The Scoreboard also monitors:
- Ease of switching service providers as well as actual switching
behaviour. Switching is perceived as most difficult in electricity supply by EU
consumers, followed by investment banking, gas supply and bank loans.
- Price divergence. Price is one of the main purchase criteria for EU
consumers and major price divergences in the single market can be an indication
of fragmentation. The Scoreboard shows marked price differences across the EU.
The differences between prices of services are in general much larger than for
goods, with the largest divergences found in bank current accounts and internet
The data reflects the number of consumer complaints collected by national
authorities and consumer organisations. The UK's ’Consumer Direct'
managed by the Office of Fair Trading gathered the most with 843 complaints,
followed by Poland (671) and Austria (485).
These figures do not merely reflect the prevalence of actual problems
indicated by consumers, but also reveal the effectiveness of the complaint
collecting bodies, the level of consumer empowerment and willingness to
complain when confronted with problems. It is therefore important to
analyse complaints together with additional data in order to determine if a
high number of complaints indicates market malfunctioning or if it only
reflects the success of consumer policy efforts.
Losses incurred by European consumers, as a result of problems for which
they had cause for complaint, are estimated at approximately 0.3% of EU's GDP.
This money could be better used to purchase efficient and innovative goods and
services thereby providing the EU's economy with a much needed boost.
Full text of the Scoreboard including member state overviews: http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/strategy/facts_en.htm#4CMS
For more information, please contact the London press office on 020 7973
Please note: all amounts expressed in sterling are for information purposes