About the directive
The Consumer Rights Directive gives consumers the same strong rights across the EU. It aligns and harmonises national consumer rules, for example on the information consumers need to be given before they purchase goods, services or digital content, and on their right to cancel online purchases, wherever they shop in the EU.
The directive applies to all contracts concluded between a "consumer" and a "trader". Member States may not diverge from the directive by imposing more or less stringent provisions unless a specific possibility to deviate from its rules is provided in the directive itself.
The Directive has been amended by Directive (EU) 2019/2161 of 27 November 2019 on better enforcement and modernisation of Union consumer protection rules, part of the ‘Review of EU consumer law” package.
Regulatory choices under Article 29 of the Consumer Rights Directive
Under Article 29 of the Directive, Member States must inform the Commission about their use of the regulatory choices provided by certain Articles of the Directive. The Commission makes the Member States' notifications publicly available in the form they are provided.
Guidance on the application of the Directive
On 17 December 2021, the Commission adopted a new Commission Notice on the interpretation and application of the Consumer Rights Directive ("the CRD Guidance"), as announced in the New Consumer Agenda. The Notice replaces the Guidance document on the Consumer Rights Directive from 2014.
The purpose of the CRD Guidance is to facilitate the proper application of the directive.
It also aims at increasing awareness of the directive amongst all interested parties, such as consumers, businesses, the authorities of the Member States, including national courts and legal practitioners, across the EU. It covers the amendments introduced by the Better Enforcement and Modernisation Directive (EU) 2019/2161 that enter into application from 28 May 2022.
The CRD Guidance provides additional legal interpretation on key questions and topics, for example:
- interplay with other EU legislation;
- contracts where the consumer provides personal data;
- obligations of online marketplaces;
- transparency of search results;
- personalised price;
- consumer’s right of withdrawal from contracts concluded during unsolicited visits or excursions;
- consumer’s right of withdrawal from contracts for online digital content;
- consequences of trader’s failure to inform about the right of withdrawal;
- enforcement and penalties.
Evaluation of the Consumer Rights Directive
A report on the application of the Directive was published on 29 May 2017 together with the report on the Fitness Check of consumer and marketing law. The evaluation aimed to assess whether the CRD has achieved its objectives and whether the anticipated impacts as described in the original impact assessment accompanying the proposal for the Directive have materialised.
Further to the fitness check of consumer and marketing law and the evaluation of the consumer rights directive, the Commission proposed, on 11 April 2018, to revise several existing EU consumer law directives, including the Consumer Rights Directive. The amending Directive was adopted on 27 November 2019 - Directive (EU) 2019/2161 on better enforcement and modernisation of Union consumer protection rules
Information requirements for contracts other than distance and off-premises contracts
Chapter II contains core information to be provided by traders prior to the conclusion of consumer contracts, which are not distance or off-premises contracts. EU countries may add on further information requirements for such contracts in their national law.
Distance and off-premises contracts
Chapter III lays down the information requirements for distance and off-premises contracts, including information about the functionality and interoperability of digital content. It regulates the right of withdrawal (length of the withdrawal period, procedure and effects of the withdrawal), including a standard withdrawal form (Annex I(B)) that must be provided by traders and may be used by consumers to notify the withdrawal from the contract.
Delivery and risk
Chapter IV provides for rules on delivery and passing of risk applicable to contracts for the sale of goods as well as certain rules applicable to all types of consumer contracts.
- rules regarding the fees for the use of certain means of payment (e.g. credit or debit cards)
- rules regarding the charges for calling telephone hotlines operated by traders
- a prohibition to use pre-ticked boxes on websites for charging extra payments in addition to the remuneration for the trader's main contractual obligation
Chapter V contains general provisions, e.g. on enforcement and penalties.