The European Parliament adopts revised rules to better protect consumers from cross-border infringements to consumer law

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On 14 November, the European Parliament adopted with a large majority the Commission’s the Consumer Protection Cooperation Regulation (CPC Regulation) during its plenary session.

The revised Regulation aims at ensuring that the rules regulating the network of national authorities in charge of enforcing EU consumer law set up in 2006 is up to date with the new challenges of the digital economy and the development of cross-border retail.

As part of its e-commerce package, the Commission had for ambition to enhance cooperation between countries to tackle cross-border infringements in the EU. The new rules were designed to close legal loopholes caused by the lack of harmonization between Member States.

The revised Regulation gives more power to national authorities to detect and halt online breaches of consumer protection laws, but also to the Commission which will be in charge of coordinating actions in large infringement cases (concerning consumers in at least two-thirds of the member states, accounting, together, for at least two-thirds of the EU population).

Ecommerce Europe overall supported the Proposal for a CPC Regulation as better cooperation is supposed to lead to a more consistent approach to enforcement and more level playing field for businesses operating across the European Union. However, during the legislative process, Ecommerce Europe warned EU policymakers about some provisions expanding enforcement powers in a disproportionate way, for instance the power to close down a website. Even though this provision has been then removed from the text, other provisions may still rise some concerns.

In fact, also according to MEP Julia Reda’s blog, the text passed on 14 November by the European Parliament “contains an overreaching general website blocking provision (…). According to the new rules, national consumer protection authorities can order any unspecified third party to block access to websites without requiring judicial authorization.”. MEP Reda also mentioned that when the European Parliament was discussion its position on the CPC Regulation in March 2017, she successfully proposed that the last resort measure should have been be “removing content that infringes on consumer protection laws, not blocking access to websites, and that fundamental rights must be safeguarded by requiring prior judicial authorization”.

The Council now needs to formally adopt the amended Commission’s proposal. The Regulation will apply two years after the date of its entry into force.

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