European Commission initiatives presented at European Consumer Summit

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Ecommerce Europe recently participated in the 2020 Edition of the European Consumer Summit. The Summit brings together up to 500 stakeholders involved in shaping the future EU consumer policy. Justice Commissioner, Didier Reynders, opened the event with a key note speech, explaining that, by the end of 2020, the European Commission will come up with a new Consumer Agenda. The focus would go beyond ‘simple’ consumer protection, expanding to consumer empowerment as well.

Part of the Commission’s plans is also ensuring that the proposed Directive on representative actions for the protection of the collective interests of consumers is passed quickly, which is one of Reynders’ priorities, who aims at an adoption by mid-2020. Ecommerce Europe and the wider European business community has followed with interest and concern the progress of the Proposal on Collective Actions in the Council, which recently achieved its General Approach on the draft law. The current text in the Council represents a considerable shift from the original proposal whereby the main intent is to keep the already existing national systems largely unaffected. Despite the attempt of the wider European industry to address the negative consequences of an unbalanced civil justice systems (see here), the Council’s approach misses essential safeguards in a cross-border context.

Going back to the Commission’s priorities for the new mandate, at the event, Reynders also addressed “human-centric” digitalization and climate change in his speech. He added that the Commission aims at focusing on online fairness as well, as “consumers should enjoy at least the same level of protection when shopping online as offline”. The Commission will also work on an update to the General Product Safety Directive to deal with new technologies and the growth of e-commerce, something that will be further addressed in the upcoming Commission’s AI White Paper. With regards to the Green Deal, the Commission aims at empowering consumers who are willing to go for more sustainable alternatives to fight against climate change. The Commission will also look at tougher rules on false environmental claims, encouraging longer lifespans for consumer products, combating products’ planned obsolescence and encouraging re-use.

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