Protecting consumers from unfair practices

Unfair commercial practices directive

National authorities in the EU are able to stop a broad range of unfair business practices at marketing, contractual and post-contractual stage, such as giving buyers misleading information or using aggressive behaviour.

The main EU law in this field is the unfair commercial practices directive, which also applies to online trading.

Evaluation

The European Commission also performs regular analysis on the effects of the directive.

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The Directive was part of the Fitness Check of the EU consumer and marketing law.

Price indication

The price indication directive

The main purpose of the price indication directive is to ensure that the selling price and the price per unit of measurement (unit price) are indicated for all products offered by traders to consumers, in order to improve consumer information and to facilitate comparison of prices.

The selling price must be unambiguous, easily identifiable and clearly legible.

Evaluation

In 2006 the Commission published a Communication on the Implementation of the Unit Prices Directive to examine how EU countries had implemented the Directive.

The directive was part of the Fitness Check of the EU consumer and marketing law.

Environmental claims

False claims about products' environmental credentials not only mislead consumers but also give an unfair advantage to the company making them.

Multi-stakeholder group

In 2016, a multi-stakeholder group agreed on a set of criteria for fair environmental claims, to boost efforts to combat misleading environmental claims through the unfair commercial practices directive.

Updated guidance

This multi-stakeholder process has contributed to the update of the Commission guidance on the unfair commercial practices directive (2016), following the EU wide study in 2015 and a multi-stakeholder report in 2013.

Further reading

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Comparison tools

Consumers increasingly rely on comparison websites to compare products and services by price, quality or other criteria.

Study on comparison tools

The European Commission commissioned a study to gather evidence on how these websites function and worked with stakeholders to ensure that these tools are reliable and transparent.

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Key principles

Key principles for comparison tools aims to guide operators of comparison websites towards better compliance (notably with the unfair commercial practices directive) and more transparency and user-friendliness.

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Protecting businesses from misleading marketing

The misleading and comparative advertising directive

This can deceive people and distort the market. EU rules on misleading and comparative advertising (pdf) protect traders and set out the conditions under which comparative advertising is permitted.

Misleading marketing is advertising that does one or more of the following:

  • deceives
  • distorts economic decisions
  • harms the interests of competitors

Evaluation

The directive was part of the Fitness Check of the EU consumer and marketing law.