The EU has over the past 50 years put in place strong consumer protection policies, including overarching product safety policy and legislation, which has set a framework to combat unfair commercial practices, unfair contract terms, misleading advertising, whilst also guaranteeing consumers the right of adequate redress. Today’s consumer policy agenda is seen as a crucial element of the EU 2020 growth agenda by putting consumers at the heart of the Single Market and is therefore a key priority of the current European Commission.
Review of EU consumer law (fitness check)
Early 2016 the European Commission announced its intention to review the whole range of existing horizontal EU consumer legislation with the purpose to evaluate if these Directives are still fit for purpose. Seldia and its members are strong supporters of the need for comprehensive and harmonized consumer rights across the EU-28 and will engage with the European Commission and other stakeholders in this policy review.
- The Directive on Consumer Rights (2011/83/EC)
The Directive, repealing the Directives on distance selling and doorstep selling, protects the consumers in respect of distance contracts and contracts negotiated away from business. It establishes that the trader will bear the risk for any damage to goods in transport until the consumer takes possession of the goods. Furthermore, the Directive extends the withdrawal period for consumers to 14 calendar days. After the withdrawal the consumer has the right to be reimbursed without undue delay and within 14 days. It is applicable to contracts concluded after 13 June 2014.
- Consumer Sales& Guarantees Directive
Sellers of consumer goods within the EU are obliged to guarantee the conformity of the goods with a contract, for a period of two years after the delivery of the goods. The Directive on certain aspects of the sale of consumer goods and associated guarantees aims to harmonize those parts of consumer sales contract law that concern legal guarantees (warranties) and, to a lesser extent, commercial guarantees.
- Unfair Contract Terms Directive
The Directive on unfair terms in consumer contracts prohibits unfair contract terms which has not been individually negotiated, but imposed on the consumer. It also includes an annex where potentially unfair contract terms are listed.
- Unfair Commercial Practices Directive
The Unfair Commercial Practices Directive lays down harmonized rules for the fight against unfair commercial practices and rogue traders. The Unfair Commercial Practices Directive ensures that consumers are not misled or exposed to aggressive marketing and that any claim made by traders in the EU is clear, accurate and substantiated. The Directive also aims to ensure, promote and protect fair competition in the area of commercial practices.
In 2015 the European Commission reviewed the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive guidelines. Seldia was actively involved in this process, with a particular focus on ensuring a comprehensive definition of pyramid schemes in the annex on blacklisted commercial practices.
- Price Indication Directive
The Price Indication Directive deals with the indication of the selling price and the price per unit of measurement of products offered by traders to consumers in order to improve consumer information and to facilitate comparison of prices.
- Misleading and Comparative Advertising Directive
The Misleading and Comparative Advertising Directive (2006/114/EC) is a horizontal instrument which applies to all business-to-business (B2B) advertising and provides a minimum legal standard of protection across the EU against misleading advertising. It also lays down uniform rules on comparative advertising ensuring that it compares "like with like", is objective, does not denigrate or discredit other companies' trademarks and does not create confusion among traders).
- Injunctions Directive
SELDIA supports and promotes the proper implementation and enforcement of comprehensive consumer rights in EU Member States in direct selling so as not to create national barriers in the sector which are in conflict with EU consumer rights legislation.
SELDIA was an active supporter of the European Commission Consumer Rights Awareness Campaign, which ran between spring 2014 and March 2016 and which aimed to increase the general knowledge among traders and consumers of EU-wide consumer rights.