On 12 March 2013 the Parliament adopted in plenary two legal acts as first-reading agreements being the result of negotiations with the Council on the basis of earlier IMCO reports, namely a Directive on alternative dispute resolution for consumer disputes (ADR) and a Regulation on online dispute resolution for consumer disputes (ODR).
Whereas the ADR directive will ensure that quality out-of-court entities exist to deal with any contractual dispute between a consumer and a business, the ODR regulation will establish a European electronic platform offering a single point of entry to those who seek to resolve a dispute which has arisen from a cross-border e-commerce transaction.
Alternative dispute resolution schemes usually use a third party such as an arbitrator, mediator or an ombudsman to help the consumer and the trader to reach a solution in case of a dispute. Their advantage is offering more flexibility than going to court and better meeting the needs of both consumers and professionals. Compared to a court case these schemes are cheaper, quicker and more informal. In view of the fact that these out-of-court mechanisms have been developed differently across the European Union and that consumers often refrain from cross-border purchases because of uncertainty about who to turn to in case of a problem with a foreign trader, the need for regulatory action at the European level was identified and the Commission submitted legislative proposals in the end of 2012.
Following the vote of the Parliament, the Council has formally adopted the agreement on 24 April 2013, and both institutions have signed the Directive and the Regulation on 25 May 2013, allowing for their publication in the Official Journal on 18 June 2013. Member States will have to implement the ADR/ODR rules by July 2015; the ODR platform will be operational in January 2016.
Rapporteurs: ADR - Louis Grech (S&D), ODR - Róża Gräfin von Thun und Hohenstein (EPP)
Shadows rapporteurs: ADR - Hans-Peter Mayer (EPP), ODR - Mitro Repo (S&D), ADR/ODR - Robert Rochefort (ALDE), ADR/ODR - Heide Rühle (Greens/EFA), ADR/ODR - Ashley Fox (ECR), ADR - Denis de Jong (GUE/NGL), ODR - Kyriacos Triantaphyllides (GUE/NGL), ADR/ODR - Matteo Salvini (EDF).
Opinion-giving committees: JURI