Consumers are becoming increasingly digital, whether by choice or by default. As society and the economy advance towards the age of post-mass consumption and the Internet of Things, what can consumers expect? A new generation is asking: how does big data affect the choices I make? How much is my personal data worth, and who is using it?
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Consumers - Related Events
Following on from its work on the the circular economy, the functional economy and the collaborative economy and the successful joint conference on the New Economy Models and Social Innovation, on 30 June the EESC is organising a public hearing to gather practical examples of how the EU can create policies to foster a more sustainable economic, social and environmental system through these new models.
On 22-23 May, the Various Interests' Group held a conference on the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. Indeed, embarking on a "collective journey…to free the human race from the tyranny of poverty…(delivering a) new universal Agenda …(which will) realise the human rights of all" are very ambitious objectives. However, moving from declarations to concrete action is even more ambitious and hence, the effective governance of the 2030 Agenda is of paramount importance. Without doubt, it will only become a reality if citizens actively support the necessary transitions and if civil society is directly involved throughout the process.
How could the Digital Single Market benefit european consumers? This year's theme was a wide-ranging subject covering issues affecting consumers today in a very tangible way. The Committee has recently issued several Opinions and studies covering the digital transformation and how it impacts modes of production and consumption, and its work feeded into the discussions on many relevant topics, such as data sharing, digital inclusion and access to internet for all, artifical intelligence, digital contract rights, unnecessary geo-blocking, digital currencies and fintech, the sharing economy and the Collaborative economy.
Triggering radical change in the way we buy, exchange or even value goods and services, the collaborative economy, the functional economy and the circular economy have had a considerable impact on businesses, consumers and workers. In its 2016 opinions on all three economic models, the EESC has recognised both the potential of these new models for Europe's sustainability as well as the uncharted legal territory they bring with them. Taking our work to the next level, we have joined forces with the Global Hub for the Common Good, to enrich the European debate with input from communities directly involved in these new economies.
The functional economy focuses on the use of a product rather than its ownership. Specifically, with the functional economy model, a company sells the right to use a product of which it maintains ownership. The famous example is Michelin, which no longer sells tires for fleets of company cars, but supplies "mobility services" consisting of repairing, retreading and in some cases exchanging tires. The economic outcome is that the company has an interest in making its products last as long as possible because the price is based on usage (in this case, the number of kilometres driven) and thus in reducing waste.
The EESC has received a request from the incoming Dutch EU Presidency for an exploratory opinion on how to achieve more sustainable food systems in a resource-constrained world. In the past few years, civil society has been increasingly concerned about the environmental, economic and social impact of unsustainable food chains. Globally, about one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. Food is also one of the most important drivers of environmental pressures. The hearing will represent an opportunity to hear from experts and stakeholders about their views and initiatives for a transition to more sustainable food systems in Europe. The discussion will take a holistic and systemic approach by considering the environmental, economic and social dimensions of sustainability and the importance of cross-sectoral co-operation across the food supply chain.
The 18th edition of the European Consumer Day was held in Brussels on 10 March 2016.
We discussed the Better Regulation initiative, what should be taken into account by the Commission and other institutions in implementing this new strategy and how to make sure that consumers do not lose out.
This conference aims to exchange best practices of cooperation in different Member States and to reflect on the provision of social Services of General Interest at the European level. The meeting should feature presentations of different solutions and ideas from France, Germany and Poland:
- the "decentralized" model of the "Centres communaux d'action sociale" (France);
- the "institutional" model of the German Association of Public and Private Welfare;
- and a model project from Poland called "Platforms of social services";
- the Members of the EESC Permanent Study Group on Services of General Interest will also be encouraged to present solutions from their own countries.
Taking into account the fact that Latvian energy market has been liberalised this year, and that energy is an important issue for consumers, the conference revolved around consumer's perspective on energy. Debates focused on the traditional energy market, but also on renewable energy.
The event was an occasion to present EESC's recent work on consumption and energy and to exchange views with local stakeholders (including consumer representatives from Lithuania and Estonia, as we made a Baltic event out of this conference).