Consumer package and CPC biennal report
Publication date: 02 July 2009
1. What is the package comprised of ?
The adoption of the 'enforcement package' marks a milestone in the enforcement of consumer rights, since the initiatives seek to secure the highest level possible of consumer protection which will in turn give consumers confidence to exploit the full potential of the single market .
- The Communication: The Communication is to be seen in the overall context of the EU consumer policy strategy which emphasises enforcement as one of its key pillars. Based on an analysis of the state of play and, of what has been achieved so far, the Communication takes stock of consumer enforcement action, and aims to identify the main challenges that need to be overcome to ensure more effective enforcement of EU consumer law.
- The Biennial Report: The Biennial report stems from a legal obligation under the CPC Regulation which requires that, every two years, the Commission reports to Parliament and Council on the application of that Regulation. The Regulation links national public enforcement authorities in an EU-wide Enforcement Network which has been given the means to exchange information and to work together to put an end to cross-border breaches of consumer protection laws. The Commission's report is based on national reports from Member States, statistical data extracted from the IT-tool used by the CPC Network and the practical experience gained through the coordination of the Network's first joint enforcement actions, the EU-sweeps. Download the document: 2009-336-ReportCPC.pdf (75.6 KB)
2. What is the European Commission’s role in enforcing consumer laws?
The European Commission does not have direct enforcement powers vis-à-vis traders in enforcing consumer laws, which are the prerogative of Member States. However given the emergence of new factors such as e-commerce, the enlargement of the single market and the increased globalisation of trade in goods and services, enforcement can no longer be seen as confined to national boundaries.
In this context, the Commission has a unique pan-European vantage point which can bring value- added to an effective, coherent and optimal enforcement policy in the EU. It can promote effective enforcement by a variety of actions coordinating and facilitating cross-border cooperation and exchange of know-how and by keeping political attention focused on enforcement. It has a role to play to ensure that EU legislation is transformed into tangible benefits for European consumers. It also provides EU level coordination in the product safety area by collecting and disseminating information to authorities and consumers on dangerous products.
As guardian of the Treaty, the Commission monitors the implementation of Community law by Member States including their obligation to properly enforce EU consumer protection rules. Where a Member State does not comply with this obligation the Commission will bring infringement proceedings pursuant to Article 226 EC Treaty.
What next for the package adopted ?
The consumer enforcement package sets out the principles and priorities underpinning the Commission's activities to reinforce enforcement of consumer rules in the EU and outlines how it will work in partnership with the Member States. This is also to be seen in the overall context of the EU consumer strategy. In more operational terms, the package will be the basis for detailed discussion with Member States and the European Parliament to find the most appropriate ways to move up a gear in enforcement.
The Biennial report is a Commission report which will now be sent to the other institutions, in particular to the European Parliament and Council. At the level of the CPC (Consumer Protection Cooperation Network, which exists since 2006), the Commission has already started to work with Member States addressing the issues identified in the Report. Several initiatives are either already in place or are being set up. Annual Enforcement plans defining the Network's joint enforcement activities are for instance adopted every year to better organise the Network's work. Supportive measures such as training for authorities are being reinforced. With regard to training, a network of national trainers is being set up, and less experienced Network members are being actively approached to assess their training needs. The more horizontal issues, such as questions on applicable law, are being discussed in expert groups (workshops) as well as more operational questions concerning the functioning of the Network for which a first workshop is scheduled for autumn this year.
Find extensive information on CPC assessment and functioning in the full Press Release:
2009-07-02-EnforcementPackage.pdf (31.1 KB)
Source: Extracts from the EC Press Release available in full