On 17 October, the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament (S&D) organized a conference on the New Deal for Consumers with a special focus on the Omnibus Directive. The S&D shadow Rapporteur for the New Deal for Consumers, Evelyne Gebhardt (Germany), and coordinator, Nicola Danti (Italy), as well as Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Věra Jourová, gave opening remarks.
MEP Gebhardt warned that it was still not clear whether the proposal would become law in this parliamentary term but said that the European Parliament would put pressure on the Council of the European Union to finish the work.
Commissioner Jourova said that there were bad reactions in the Council of the EU on the proposed changes to the right of withdrawal and on the collective redress. Namely, the concern is that, with the proposed changes, the EU will open the door for US-style class actions that would create a litigation business in Europe. Commissioner Jourova strongly rejected those claims. She also highlighted the fact that the Commission received many complaints on the misuse of the right of withdrawal where buyers use the goods more than what is necessary to test them, before returning them to merchants.
Siada El-Ramly, Director General of EDIMA, said that some of the concerns with this proposal were overlap with the GDPR, implications for “free” services, pre-contractual information and data collection. She also said that some of the amendments from the European Parliament were also worrying, such as transparency requirements and intermediary liability.
Guido Smorto, a professor of Law at University of Palermo, said that shorter terms and conditions might be a solution for consumers who generally do not read it. He also warned that price discrimination is much easier today and called for more price transparency.
Anne-Lise Sibony, professor of European Law at the University of Louvain, said that fines should not be watered down because they are an important factor of consumer protection. Patrycja Gautier, senior legal officer at BEUC, supported this position and said that BEUC would like to see the fine defined as an exact amount not as a percentage (like in GDPR).