Ongoing negotiations and information for the protection and support of Greek consumers

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Evangelia KEKELEKI
Greek Consumer Protection Centre (KEPKA)

From the beginning of this unprecedented crisis, in January 2020, KEPKA has closely monitored all developments and issued regular press releases to inform and consequently protect consumers.

We have repeatedly called on the government to support the suspension of consumer and mortgage instalments during the crisis and to forbid any penalty in the event of delays in the payment of utility bills (electricity, water).

With the imposition of travel restrictions, we were in constant contact and exchanged mutual information with the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) as we had to protect consumers claiming refunds and compensation for cancelled trips. We considered that an open voucher compensation scheme, which deprives consumers of the right to a refund, was not satisfactory, as many consumers would not be eligible for the planned trip later.

Another risk that we warned about, in our press release and our information, concerns online fraud. This risk has increased due to the overflow of e-commerce under these conditions.

With additional press releases and information, we urged the government not to diminish the rights of consumers due to the ensuing economic crisis. In particular, we called for measures to help consumers who do not meet their loan payments due to declining income during the COVID-19 crisis.

Given the high cost of vaccines and treatments and the amounts that the EU has allocated to date for studies and research (over EUR 90 million for COVID-19 research), we focused on the long-term issue of overpriced drugs and treatments for consumers. In a press release, we called for a review of how to finance research in the health sector, in light of COVID-19, at pan-European level.

The Greek Prime Minister himself has submitted a proposal for the EU and its Member States to lead collective action to "purchase" copyright, vaccines, treatments and diagnostic tests for COVID-19, to make them public goods. This proposal has been sent by KEPKA to Luca Jahier, president of the European Economic and Social Committee, and to BEUC, asking for their support.