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Consumer Protection Cooperation Network

Reporting period: 01/2018 – 12/2018

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About

The Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) network consists of authorities responsible for enforcing EU consumer protection laws to protect consumers’ interests in EU and EEA countries.

The CPC Regulation, which will be replaced by the new CPC Regulation, provides for a cooperation framework so that national authorities from all EEA countries can jointly address breaches of EU laws to protect consumers’ interests in cases where the trader and the consumer are based in different EEA countries.

The CPC Regulation connects the national authorities responsible for enforcing consumer protection laws to form a European enforcement network called the ‘CPCnetwork’. In each country, a single liaison office is responsible for coordinating the relevant national authorities.

These authorities cooperate on consumer rules that cover areas such as:

Set up in 2007, the CPC network enables authorities to share best practices and provides a mutual assistance mechanism. It also conducts regular EU-wide screenings of websites ('sweeps') to check whether a given sector is complying with consumer rules. Authorities can also alert each other about malpractices that could spread to other countries.

In 2014, the network went one step further, agreeing on coordinated positions in areas of common interest. This has forced traders involved in widespread problematic practices across the EU to change them. Examples include car rental and 'in-app' purchases in online games.

The new CPC Regulation, which will apply from 17 January 2020, will improve the current framework by putting in place stronger coordinated mechanisms to investigate and tackle widespread infringements and allowing cooperation on infringements of short duration, such as misleading advertising campaigns. Have you encountered problems when buying goods or services from a trader abroad? If so, contact the European Consumer Centres network for help.

Facts and Figures

Number of CPC cases

How the network works

Under the CPC Regulationpdf, participating countries are obliged to provide mutual assistance.

They do this by sharing 3 types of information via a database (the CPC system) run by the Commission:

Achievements

A) Legislative developments

On 25 May 2016, the Commission put forward a proposal to reform the CPC Regulation in order to improve the existing mechanism for cooperation between national authorities on consumer protection. It also proposed replacing the CPC Regulation with a new regulation.

After successful negotiations between the co-legislators, the new CPC Regulation was adopted and published in the Official Journal on 27 December 2017.

The Regulation will apply from 17 January 2020. At the same time, Regulation (EU) 2006/2004 will be repealed, as provided for by Article 41 of the new CPC Regulation.

The Regulation brings a number of improvements so that EU consumer protection laws can be better enforced. They include:

B) Sweeps

C) Other achievements

  • An e-enforcement academy was set up to boost the CPC network and the ability of product safety networks to conduct online investigations. The first phase of the project (2017-18) was successful, providing national CPC and product safety authorities with various deliverables. These activities will continue in the second phase of the project (2019).
  • CPC authorities are now using the CPC knowledge exchange platform, an IT tool developed in 2014–15 to support collaborative work and share results with the wider CPC network.
  • The joint actions of the CPC authorities have achieved significant results to the benefit of consumers. As a result of the joint action on car rental, 5 major car rental companies (Avis, Europcar, Enterprise, Hertz and Sixt) have changed and improved their commercial practices, contract terms and internal policies to comply with EU consumer rules. Following the joint action on social media, 3 major platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Google+) adapted their terms of service according to the CPC requirements and established a ‘notice and action ’ procedure dedicated to the CPC authorities for the reporting and removal of illegal content. A similar action against Airbnb is ongoing and is expected to yield equally positive results.

Priorities

  • Continue working together with national authorities and stakeholders to ensure that the new cooperation mechanism is implemented consistently across the EU and that stakeholders are also on-board.
  • Keep improving the CPC network’s efficiency and effectiveness – through meetings, workshops and coordinated enforcement actions. Work on coordinated actions to address issues that are extremely important to consumers across the EU.
  • Continue building the capacity of the network to conduct online investigations, also via the e-enforcement academy project.
  • Work on a new IT tool (electronic database) to help CPC authorities and other stakeholders cooperate in an efficient and user-friendly way.