The European Commission is currently holding an online public consultation in relation to a targeted revision of the European Union’s consumer law directives. The purpose of this consultation is to gather feedback from businesses, national authorities, consumers and other stakeholders on potential legislative changes in some key EU consumer law directives.
This consultation follows a so-called ‘Fitness Check’ by the Commission on consumer and marketing laws as well as on the Consumer Rights Directive.
In order to assist stakeholders interested in participating in the Commission’s online consultation, MEUSAC and the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority (MCCAA) organised a consultation session on September 12, 2017. The session provided stakeholders with the opportunity to clarify issues they may have experienced when filling in the online consultation form, as well as to make enquiries on the subject to the MCCAA. In fact, the aim of this particular consultation was to facilitate discussion on the impact of EU consumer laws on the consumers themselves.
Ms Odette Vella from the MCCAA, who gave a presentation on the subject during the consultation session, said that after the Fitness Check, it emerged that there was a notable increase in consumer trust. This, she said, is evident due to the fact that cross-border shopping increased. She said this was possible due to harmonised EU protection rules, among other initiatives. She also noted that as a result of the consumer laws that are in place, 63% of cross-border traders benefited.
The open consultation is primarily focused on a number of legislative areas wherein the Commission is considering making amendments to fine-tune the EU’s legislation on consumers. This includes initiatives which provide more transparency where online purchases are concerned, along with more clear rules tied to the rights of EU consumers. This also presents the possibility of exploring more proportionate penalties to tackle breaches of consumer law, as well as simplifying various rules and requirements across the board. Additionally, the Commission is also seeking stakeholders’ views on certain issues in relation to national rules banning doorstep selling.
The Fitness Check confirmed that the EU’s consumer legislation is still fit for purpose and, indeed, able to address problems faced by consumers with regards to both the traditional as well as the online market. With regards to the latter in particular, the EU is working towards establishing clearer legislation on online contracts and transactions, ensuring that consumers enjoy the necessary protection.
Nevertheless, the results of the Fitness Check also emphasised the need for better awareness on the rights of consumers as well as strengthening the enforcement of existing rules and regulations. The Check also noted that targeted legislative changes on various levels would prove to be beneficial in the long run.