Member States increase cooperation on consumer rights

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Neven Mimica, the European Commissioner for Consumer Policy, visited Rome on the 7th of July to set out his views on pan-European cooperation concerning consumer rights.

The European Commission has erected the Consumer Protection Co-operation network in 2007 in order to bring national authorities together in order to enforce European consumer laws at European level.

Neven Mimica commented: “Strict enforcement is key. Consumer rights that exist on paper only do not help consumers. Effective enforcement of consumer legislation is essential in turning rights on paper, into tangible benefits for consumers in practice. Enforcement co-operation not only leads to a better functioning Single Market for consumers, but also brings benefits for enterprises through more transparency, more competition, a level-playing field and legal certainty for companies. We must create a framework that will allow us to tackle widespread infringements which concern several or even all EU countries at the same time. In this context, we must also carefully reflect on what should be the role of the Commission – first as a coordinator, but also in helping identify malpractices, and in deciding on the common EU-legal mechanisms that would best address such malpractices.”

The Consumer Protection Co-operation allows the authority of Member State in which the consumer interests are harmed to call on the counterpart in the Member State where the trader is located and ask for action to stop the infringement. Since 2007, more than 1400 mutual assistance request have been exchanged. The regular coordinated surveillance of online markets has led to the correction of 2000 non-compliant websites over this same period. The European Commission invests time and energy in countering such malpractices, with special attention on the online market, where – due to its modern character – consumer rights are more prone to be infringed.

Ecommerce Europe applauds the initiatives of the European Commission to create a level-playing field in terms of consumer rights. The aim of legal certainty should help web shops to know what is required, and it is easier for web shops if all rules are the same across all Member States. A balanced approach to consumer rights ensures trust in the online economy, which is a vital ingredient for growth. Furthermore, Ecommerce Europe embraces pan-European cooperation in order to facilitate cross-border growth of the e-commerce sector, as there is a lot of ground to be gained.

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