A New Deal for Consumers

EESC opinion: A New Deal for Consumers

Key points

The EESC acknowledges the Commission's proposal to update existing rules to take into account new consumption habits and to adapt them to the digital single market evolution. However, as recommended by the EESC opinion on consumer vulnerability in business practices, concerns related to the lack of enforcement of existing rules still need to be addressed. Moreover, the harmonization of consumer protection law should not diminish the level of consumer protection in the Member States while balancing it with traders’ legal certainty. While the REFIT concludes that consumer protection rules are fit for purpose, an increasing number of consumers are subject to aggressive marketing and misleading business practices. Consumer rights should be extended to all those "apparently free" digital services for which users give personal and non-personal data.

The Committee also supports greater transparency and responsibility of online platforms. On the review of the Consumer Rights Directive: traders are in favour of updating, simplifying and adapting pre-contractual information, whereas consumers consider that this would lower the level of protection. On the right of withdrawal, the Committee shares different views: traders - SMEs in particular - need additional legal certainty on unduly tested goods and early reimbursement. Consumers reject the amendment and call for the status quo. Measures to protect consumers against "dual quality products" are considered justified. ADR and ODR mechanisms such as mediation or arbitration should be promoted at European and national level. Consumer Protection legislation should be effectively implemented and enforced. The EESC considers the specific criteria for the establishment of fines to be an effective consumer protection instrument. Previous EESC recommendations for collective redress have not been considered. Easy and fast access to justice should be granted to EU citizens. Qualified entities should be identified according to the principle of subsidiarity and national legislation. There should be the possibility both to opt in and out of collective action.

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