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Procedure : 2005/0042B(COD)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A6-0032/2006

Texts tabled :

A6-0032/2006

Debates :

PV 16/03/2006 - 6
PV 16/03/2006 - 15
CRE 16/03/2006 - 6
CRE 16/03/2006 - 15

Votes :

PV 23/03/2006 - 11.6
CRE 23/03/2006 - 11.6
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P6_TA(2006)0107

Texts adopted
PDF 166kDOC 96k
Thursday, 23 March 2006 - Brussels Final edition
Community action programme in the field of consumer protection (2007-2013) ***I
P6_TA(2006)0107A6-0032/2006
Resolution
 Consolidated text

European Parliament legislative resolution on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a Programme of Community action in the field of Health and Consumer protection (2007-2013) - Consumer aspects (COM(2005)0115 – C6-0225/2005 – 2005/0042B(COD))

(Codecision procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to the European Parliament and the Council (COM(2005)0115)(1) ,

–   having regard to the decision of the Conference of Presidents of 30 June 2005 to split the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a programme of Community action in the field of health and consumer protection (2007-2013) in order to assign it to both the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection for the drawing up of two separate reports,

–   having regard to Articles 251(2) and 153 of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C6-0225/2005),

–   having regard to Rule 51 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the opinions of the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Legal Affairs (A6-0032/2006),

1.  Approves the Commission proposal as amended;

2.  Points out that the appropriations indicated in the legislative proposal beyond 2006 are subject to the decision on the next multiannual financial framework;

3.  Calls on the Commission, once the next multiannual financial framework is adopted, to present, if appropriate, a proposal to adjust the financial reference amount of the programme;

4.  Calls on the Commission to refer the matter to Parliament again if it intends to amend the proposal substantially or replace it with another text;

5.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council and Commission.

(1) Not yet published in OJ.


Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 23 March 2006 with a view to the adoption of Decision No .../2006/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a programme of Community action in the field of consumer protection (2007-2013)
P6_TC1-COD(2005)0042B

(Text with EEA relevance)

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION,

Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Community, and in particular Article 153 thereof,

Having regard to the proposal from the Commission ,

Having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee(1) ,

Having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions(2) ,

Acting in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 251 of the Treaty(3) ,

Whereas:

(1)  The Community can contribute to protecting the safety and economic interests of citizens through actions in the field of consumer protection.

(2)  It is therefore appropriate to establish a programme of Community action on consumer protection, replacing Decision No 20/2004/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 December 2003 establishing a general framework for financing Community actions in support of consumer policy for the years 2004 to 2007(4) . That Decision should therefore be repealed.

(3)  Integrating consumer interests in all Community policies, in accordance with Article 153 of the Treaty, should be given high priority, together with the consumer policy objectives set out in this programme. Coordination with other Community policies and programmes is a key part of mainstreaming consumer protection in other policies. In order to promote synergies and avoid duplication, other Community funds and programmes should provide for financial support for the integration of consumer interests in their respective fields.

(4)  It is of general European interest that the safety of services and non-food products and the economic interests of citizens, as well as consumer interests in the development of standards for products and services, be represented at Community level. Key objectives of the programme may also depend on the existence of specialised networks that also require Community contributions to enable them to develop and function. Given the particular nature of the organisations concerned and in cases of exceptional utility, the renewal of Community support to the functioning of such organisations should not be subject to the principle of gradual decrease of the extent of Community support.

(5)  Implementation of the programme should build upon and extend existing actions and structural arrangements in the field of consumer protection. Implementation should be carried out in close cooperation with relevant organisations and agencies .

(6)  The measures necessary for the implementation of this Decision should be adopted in accordance with Council Decision 1999/468/EC of 28 June 1999 laying down the procedures for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on the Commission(5) , respecting the need for transparency as well as a reasonable balance between the different objectives of the programme.

(7)  Implementation of the programme should take into account that the internal market will not function properly if consumers are less well protected in some Member States than in others. The programme should therefore put a special focus on strengthening consumer protection and consumer awareness in the new Member States in line with the European Parliament's resolution of 15 December 2005 on the promotion and protection of consumers' interests in the new Member States (6) .

(8)  The Agreement on the European Economic Area (hereinafter referred to as the EEA Agreement) provides for cooperation in the field of consumer protection between the European Community and its Member States, on the one hand, and the countries of the European Free Trade Association participating in the European Economic Area (hereinafter referred to as the EFTA/EEA countries), on the other. Provision should also be made to open the programme to participation by other countries, in particular the neighbouring countries of the Community, countries that are applying for, candidates for or acceding to membership of the Community .

(9)  Appropriate relations with third countries not participating in the programme should be facilitated in order to help achieve the objectives of the programme, taking account of any relevant agreements between those countries and the Community. This may involve third countries taking forward complementary activities to those financed through this programme on areas of mutual interest, but will not involve a financial contribution under this programme.

(10)  It is appropriate to develop cooperation with relevant international organisations with a view to implementing the programme through maximising the effectiveness and efficiency of actions relating to consumer protection at Community and international level, taking account of the particular capacities and roles of the different organisations.

(11)  In order to increase the value and impact of the programme there should be regular monitoring and evaluation, including independent external evaluations, of the measures taken. For purposes of evaluating consumer policy, measurable objectives should, as far as possible, be formulated and valid indicators developed.

(12)  In view of the everyday role played by small businesses and craft industries in informing and advising consumers about products and services and health emergencies or risks inherent in the use of certain materials, the work done by such businesses and industries and their organisations for the benefit of consumers at all levels should be supported, and it should be ensured that Community legislation can be complied with by them.

(13)  Since the objectives of the action to be taken on consumer protection cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States due to the trans-national nature of the issues involved, and can therefore by reason of the potential for Community action to be more efficient and effective than national action alone in protecting the safety and economic interests of citizens, be better achieved at Community level, the Community may adopt measures, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity set out in Article 5 of the Treaty. In accordance with the principle of proportionality, as set out in that Article, this decision does not go beyond what is necessary in order to achieve those objectives.

(14)  The Commission should ensure an appropriate transition between this programme and the programme it replaces, in particular regarding the continuation of multi-annual measures as well as evaluation of the successes of the previous programme and of areas that need more attention .

(15)  If the Commission takes a decision to delegate powers in respect of the logistical and administrative aspects of the implementation of this programme, it should do so after a cost-benefit analysis which produces positive results and it should investigate whether it is not preferable to extend the powers of the 'Executive Agency for the Public Health Programme' rather than set up an additional executive agency,

HAVE ADOPTED THIS DECISION:

Article 1

Establishment of the programme

A programme of Community action in the field of consumer protection covering the period from 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2013, hereinafter referred to as "the programme", is hereby established.

Article 2

Aim and objectives

1.  The programme shall complement and support the policies of the Member States and shall contribute to protecting the safety and economic interests of citizens by means of added value actions .

2.  The aim referred to in paragraph 1 shall be pursued through the following objectives to be achieved through the actions and instruments set out in Annex I:

   a) a better understanding of consumers and markets, with special attention being paid to the different needs of various age groups;
   b) better consumer protection regulation, including greater participation of consumer representatives, other civil society stakeholders and research bodies, that can be complied with by small businesses and craft industries;
   c) better enforcement, monitoring and judical and extra-judical individual and collective means of redress; and
   d) better informed, educated and responsible consumers.

Article 3

Methods of implementation

1.  Actions in pursuit of the aim and objectives set out in Article 2 shall make full use of appropriate available methods of implementation, including in particular:

   a) direct or indirect implementation by the Commission on a centralised basis; and
   b) joint management with international organisations.

2.  For the purposes of paragraph 1(a), financial contributions by the Community shall not exceed the following levels:

   a) 50% for an action intended to help achieve an objective forming part of a Community policy within the field of consumer protection, except in cases of exceptional utility where the Community contribution shall not exceed 80% under the conditions set out in Annex II ;
   b) 50% of expenditure for the functioning of a body pursuing an aim of general European interest where such support is necessary to ensure representation of consumer interests at Community level or to implement key objectives of the programme under the conditions set out in Annex II; and
   c) 95% of expenditure for the functioning of Community consumer organisations representing consumer interests in the development of standards for products and services at Community level under the conditions set out in Annex II.

3.  The renewal of financial contributions for actions set out in paragraph 2(b) and (c) may be exempted from the principle of gradual decrease.

4 .  For the purposes of paragraph 1(a), financial contributions by the Community may, where appropriate given the nature of the objective to be achieved, include joint financing by the Community and one or more Member States or by the Community and the competent authorities of other participating countries. In this case, the Community contribution shall not exceed 50%, except in cases of exceptional utility, where the Community contribution shall not exceed 70%.

5 .  For the purposes of paragraph 1(a), financial contributions by the Community may also be given in the form of flat-rate financing where this is suited to the nature of the actions concerned. For such financial contributions the percentage limits stipulated in paragraphs 2 and 4 shall not apply. The criteria for selecting, monitoring and evaluating such actions shall be adapted as necessary.

6.  The criteria for assessing whether or not exceptional utility as referred to in paragraphs 2(a) and 4 applies shall be established in advance in the annual plan of work referred to in Article 7(1)(a).

Article 4

Implementation of the programme

The Commission shall ensure the implementation of the programme in accordance with the provisions of Article 7.

Article 5

Funding

1.  The indicative financial framework for the implementation of the present programme for the seven- year period beginning on 1 January 2007 specified in Article 1 is EUR 233 460 000 .

2.  Annual appropriations shall be authorised by the budgetary authority within the limits of the financial perspective.

3.  The overall administrative expenditure of the programme, including internal and management expenditure for any Executive Agency created or extended to administer this programme, should be proportionate to the tasks provided for under the programme and is subject to decision of the budgetary and legislative authorities.

Article 6

Committee

1.  The Commission shall be assisted by a Committee ("the Committee").

2.  Where reference is made to this paragraph, Articles 4 and 7 of Decision 1999/468/EC shall apply, having regard to the provisions of Article 8 thereof.

The period laid down in Article 4(3) of Decision 1999/468/EC shall be set at two months .

3 .  The Committee shall adopt its rules of procedure.

Article 7

Implementation measures

1.  The measures necessary for the implementation of this Decision relating to the following shall be adopted in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 6(2):

   a) the annual plan of work for the implementation of the programme, setting out priorities and actions to be undertaken, including the allocation of resources and relevant criteria, inter alia selection and award criteria and criteria for the percentage of the financial contribution by the Community to be applied ;
   b) the arrangements for evaluating the programme referred to in Article 10.

2.  The Commission shall adopt any other measures necessary for the implementation of this Decision. The Committee shall be informed of them.

Article 8

Participation of third countries

The programme shall be open to the participation of:

   a) the EFTA/EEA countries in accordance with the conditions established in the EEA Agreement; and
   b) third countries, in particular countries in the European neighbourhood, countries that are applying for, candidates for or acceding to membership of the Union, and the western Balkan countries included in the stabilisation and association process, in accordance with the conditions laid down in the respective bilateral or multilateral agreements establishing the general principles for their participation in Community programmes.

Article 9

International cooperation

In the course of implementing the programme, relations with third countries that are not participating in the programme and relevant international organisations shall be encouraged.

Article 10

Monitoring, evaluation and dissemination of results

1.  The Commission, in close cooperation with the Member States, shall monitor the implementation of the actions of the programme in the light of its objectives. It shall report to the Committee, and shall keep the European Parliament and the Council informed .

2.  At the request of the Commission, Member States shall submit information on the implementation and impact of this programme.

3.  The Commission shall ensure that the programme is evaluated three years after its start and following the end of the programme. The Commission shall communicate the conclusions thereof, accompanied by its comments, to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions.

4.  The Commission shall make the results of actions undertaken in accordance with this Decision publicly available and shall ensure their dissemination.

Article 11

Repeal

Decision No 20/2004/EC is repealed.

Article 12

Transitional measures

The Commission shall adopt any measures necessary to ensure the transition between the measures adopted under Decision No 20/2004/EC and those to be implemented under this programme.

Article 13

Final provision

This Decision shall enter into force on the day following that of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.

Done at,

For the European Parliament For the Council

The President The President

ANNEX I

Actions and Instruments referred to in Article 2

Objective I - A better understanding of consumers and markets

Action 1: Monitoring and assessment of market developments with an impact on the economic and other interests of consumers, including price surveys, inventory and analysis of consumer complaints, analysis of cross-border marketing and business-to-consumer purchases, and surveys of changes in the structure of markets.

Action 2: The collection and exchange of data and information that provide an evidence base for the development of consumer policy and for the integration of consumer interests in other Community policies, including, surveys of consumer and business attitudes, consumer-related and other market research in the financial services area, collection and analysis of statistical and other relevant data, the statistical element of which will be developed using as necessary the Community Statistical Programme.

Action 3: The collection, exchange, analysis of data and development of assessment tools that provide a scientific evidence base on the safety of consumer goods and services, including consumer exposure to chemicals released from products.

Action 4: Setting up of a mechanism for reporting regularly on consumption and consumer protection on the European market, based on the establishment of a permanent consumer information and observation system at European level to gather, process and analyse data that can be used to provide objective, reliable and comparable information to enable the Community and the Member States to take measures to protect consumers, to evaluate the results of these measures, encourage the exchange of information on best practice and ensure that the general public is properly informed about consumer issues in the internal market .

Action 5: An inventory of existing legislation, regulations and practices in the Member States and evaluation of the extent of implementation of Community legislation in the Member States.

Objective II - Better and uniform consumer protection regulation

Action 6 : Preparation of legislative and other regulatory initiatives and promotion of self-regulatory initiatives ensuring the participation of the operators concerned, such as organisations of small and medium-sized enterprises, microenterprises and craft industries, including:

   6. 1 . Comparative analysis of markets and regulatory systems
   6. 2 . Legal and technical expertise for policy making on the safety of services
   6.3. Technical expertise in relation to assessment of the need for product safety standards and the drafting of CEN standardisation mandates for products and services
   6.4. Legal and technical expertise for policy development on the economic interests of consumers
   6.5. Workshops with stakeholders and experts.
   6.6. Dialogue between consumer organisations, representatives of business - with particular attention to small and medium-sized enterprises - and the Commission.
   6.7. Legal and technical expertise for the development of a harmonisation instrument on consumer protection and cross-border agreements.
   6.8. Legal and technical expertise for the development of guidelines on good business practice, including requirements to the effect that producers must be able, on request, to verify statements concerning products or services and give consumers information in advance on the conditions of purchase.

Objective III - Better enforcement, monitoring and redress

Action 7 : Coordination of surveillance and enforcement actions linked to the application of consumer protection legislation, including:

   7.1. Development and maintenance of IT tools (e.g. databases, information and communication systems)
   7. 2 . Training, seminars, conferences on enforcement
   7. 3 . Planning and development of joint enforcement actions
   7. 4 . Pilot joint enforcement actions
   7. 5 . Analysis of enforcement problems and solutions

Action 8: Establishment of a general institutional and legal framework for cooperation between Member States as regards the application of legislation.

Action 9 : Financial contributions for specific joint surveillance and enforcement actions to improve administrative and enforcement cooperation on Community consumer protection legislation, including Directive 2001/95/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 December 2001 on general product safety (7) , and other actions in the context of administrative cooperation.

Action 10 : Monitoring and assessment of the safety of non-food products and services, including:

   10. 1 . Reinforcement and extension of the scope and operation of the RAPEX alert system, taking developments in market surveillance information exchange into account
   10. 2 . Technical analysis of alert notifications
   10.3. Collection and assessment of data on the risks posed by specific consumer products and services
   10.4. Supporting scientific advice and risk evaluation, including the tasks of the independent scientific committees established by Commission Decision 2004/210/EC of 3 March 2004 setting up Scientific Committees in the field of consumer safety, public health and the environment (8) .
   10.5. Further development of the consumer product safety network as provided for in Directive 2001/95/EC .
   10.6. Analysis of injury data and development of best practice guidelines in relation to the safety of consumer products and services and making that information easily available to consumers.
   10.7. Development of methodologies and database maintenance for the purpose of data collection on injuries in relation to the safety of consumer products and services.

Action 11 : Monitoring of the functioning and assessment of the impact of alternative dispute resolution schemes on consumers.

Action 12 : Monitoring of the transposition and implementation of consumer protection legislation by Member States, notably Directive 2005/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2005 concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the internal market ( the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive) (9) and Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 October 2004 on cooperation between national authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws (the Regulation on consumer protection cooperation) (10) , and of national consumer policies.

Action 13 : Provision of specific technical and legal expertise to consumer organisations, and particularly consumer organisations in the new Member States, to support their contribution to enforcement and surveillance actions.

Objective IV - Increased ability of citizens to take better decisions about their interests as consumers: better informed, educated and responsible consumers

Action 14: Improving communication with EU citizens on consumer issues, including:

   14.1. Conferences and seminars and meetings of experts and stakeholders
   14.2. Publications on issues of interest for consumer policy
   14.3. Provision of online information.

Action 15 : Development and maintenance of easily and publicly accessible databases covering the application of and case-law on Community consumer protection legislation.

Action 16 : Information actions about consumer protection measures and consumer rights, particularly in the new Member States, in cooperation with their consumer organisations.

Action 17 : Consumer education, including specific actions targeted at young consumers, older consumers and specific groups of consumers who are clearly less able to defend their interests, and the development of interactive consumer education tools.

Action 18 : Representation of the interests of Community consumers in international forums, including international standardisation bodies and international trade organisations.

Action 19 : Training for staff members of regional, national and Community consumer organisations and other capacity building actions.

Action 20 : Financial contributions for joint actions with public or non-profit bodies constituting Community networks that provide information and assistance to consumers to help them exercise their rights and obtain access to legal aid and advice, mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution, including the Commission's SOLVIT system, all of which are to be brought under the aegis of the European Consumer Centres Network. Particular attention will be paid to assisting the new Member States and acceding countries.

Action 21 : Financial contributions to the functioning of Community consumer organisations representing consumer interests in the development of standards for products and services at Community level.

Action 22 : Financial contributions to the functioning of Community consumer organisations.

Action 23: Expansion of capabilities of consumer organisations in Member States which have a less long-standing tradition of consumer protection and consumer participation in policy-making by providing them with training to build up expertise and financial assistance for information campaigns and monitoring of Community consumer legislation.

Action 24 : Provision of specific technical and legal expertise to consumer organisations to support their participation in, and input into, consultation processes on Community legislative and non-legislative policy initiatives, in relevant policy areas, such as internal market policies, services of general interest and the 10-year framework programme on sustainable production and consumption.

Objective V - Increased participation of civil society, research bodies and stakeholders in policy-making related to consumer protection and development of international cooperation in the field of consumer related research to meet the needs of society and avoid overlapping

Action 25: Promotion and strengthening of Community level consumer organisations.

Action 26: Networking of non-governmental consumer organisations and other stakeholders.

Action 27: Strengthening of Community level consultative bodies and mechanisms.

Objective VI - Mainstreaming of consumer policy objectives

Action 28: Development and application of methods of assessing the impact of Community policies and activities on consumer interests.

Action 29: Exchange of best practice with Member States on national policies.

Objective VII - Promotion of international cooperation related to consumer protection

Action 30: Measures for cooperation with international organisations.

Action 31: Measures for cooperation with third countries which do not participate in the programme.

Action 32: Encouragement of dialogue between consumer organisations.

Common to all objectives

Action 33 : Financial contributions for specific projects at Community or national level in support of consumer policy objectives, including projects promoting the cross-border exchange of information and best practices .

ANNEX II

Beneficiaries - Criteria for the application of Article 3

1.  The financial contributions for actions referred to in Article 3(2)(a) may be awarded to any legal person or association of legal persons, including appropriate independent public bodies and regional consumer organisations, that acts independently of industry and commerce and is responsible for the implementation of the projects.

2.  The financial contributions for actions referred to in Article 3(2)(b) may be awarded to Community consumer organisations which:

   a) are non-governmental, non-profit making, independent of industry, commercial and business or other conflicting interests, and have as their primary objectives and activities the promotion and protection of the health, safety and economic interests of consumers in the Community;
   b) have been mandated to represent the interests of consumers at Community level by national consumer organisations in at least half of the Member States that are representative, in accordance with national rules or practice, of consumers and are active at regional or national level; and
   c) have provided to the Commission satisfactory accounts of their membership, internal rules and sources of funding.

3.  The financial contributions for actions referred to in Article 3(2)(c) may be awarded to Community consumer organisations which:

   a) are non-governmental, non profit-making, independent of industry, commercial and business or other conflicting interests, and have as their primary objectives and activities to represent consumer interests in the standardisation process at Community level;
  b) have been mandated in at least two thirds of the Member States to represent the interests of consumers at Community level:
   - by bodies representative, in accordance with national rules or practice, of national consumer organisations in the Member States, or
   - in the absence of such bodies, by national consumer organisations in the Member States that are representative, in accordance with national rules or practice, of consumers and are active at national level; and
   c) have provided to the Commission satisfactory accounts of their membership, internal rules and sources of funding.

4.  The financial contributions for actions referred to in Article 3(4) may be awarded to a public body or a non profit-making body designated by the Member State or the competent authority concerned and agreed to by the Commission.

(1) 14.2.2006 (not yet published in OJ) .
(2) 16.2.2006 (not yet published in OJ) .
(3) Position of the European Parliament of 23 March 2006 .
(4) OJ L 5, 9.1.2004, p. 1. Decision as amended by Decision No 786/2004/EC (OJ L 138, 30.4.2004, p. 7) .
(5) OJ L 184, 17.7.1999, p. 23.
(6) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2005)0526.
(7) OJ L 11, 15.1.2002, p. 4.
(8) OJ L 66, 4.3.2004, p. 45.
(9) OJ L 149, 11.6.2005, p. 22.
(10) OJ L 364, 9.12.2004, p. 1. Regulation as amended by Directive 2005/29/EC.

Last updated: 14 September 2006Legal notice