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Representative actions to protect the collective interests of consumers: A new deal for consumers

20-01-2020

On 11 April 2018, the European Commission published a proposal for a new directive on representative actions for the protection of the collective interests of consumers. Currently, consumer organisations or independent public bodies can bring actions in the name of consumers in courts or before administrative authorities to stop infringements of consumer legislation. According to the proposal, they would be able to demand compensation for consumers as well. The European Parliament adopted its first-reading ...

On 11 April 2018, the European Commission published a proposal for a new directive on representative actions for the protection of the collective interests of consumers. Currently, consumer organisations or independent public bodies can bring actions in the name of consumers in courts or before administrative authorities to stop infringements of consumer legislation. According to the proposal, they would be able to demand compensation for consumers as well. The European Parliament adopted its first-reading position on 26 March 2019. It added safeguards to protect companies against abusive litigation, and deleted a precondition that consumers should wait for a final injunction order establishing the existence of an infringement before being allowed to demand compensation. The Council adopted its general approach on 28 November 2019 and proposed to distinguish between domestic and cross-border representative actions. Member States would decide the criteria for designation of qualified entities for domestic actions by themselves, while the criteria for cross-border actions would be common across the whole of the EU. Second edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Dual quality of products – State of play

25-11-2019

In recent years, the concern that some branded products might be inferior in the Member States that have joined the European Union (EU) since 2004 has become ever more apparent. This concern has come to be known as the 'dual quality of products'. To address the issue, between 2018 and 2019, the European Commission's Joint Research Service (JRC) compared a set of branded food products sold under the same name and in the same or similar packaging across Member States – the first time a harmonised testing ...

In recent years, the concern that some branded products might be inferior in the Member States that have joined the European Union (EU) since 2004 has become ever more apparent. This concern has come to be known as the 'dual quality of products'. To address the issue, between 2018 and 2019, the European Commission's Joint Research Service (JRC) compared a set of branded food products sold under the same name and in the same or similar packaging across Member States – the first time a harmonised testing methodology has been used to compare products from the whole of the European Union. The analysis sought to determine whether, despite the identical or similar packaging, there were differences in product composition and, if so, whether those differences corresponded to any geographical pattern. Results showed that about one third of the branded food products analysed had a composition that differed from one Member State to another. However, the results did not point to any geographical pattern that might explain those differences. In 2017, the Commission had already sought to clarify the relevant legislation with a notice introducing a test that national consumer protection authorities could use to determine on a case by case basis whether the dual quality of food products was misleading. Later, in April 2018, in the framework of the 'new deal for consumers', its proposal for a new directive on modernisation of EU consumer protection rules sought to include the dual quality of products (not just of food products) in the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive. The European Parliament has long voiced its concerns about the dual quality of products and had called for it to be added to the 'blacklist' of practices that should always be considered as banned. However, the text of the new directive on modernisation of consumer protection rules as adopted by the co-legislators did not include dual quality as a practice that must be considered unfair in all cases, but rather as one that must be proven to be misleading on a case-by-case basis. The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) has criticised this, while business organisations defend the right of companies to differentiate their products in different markets.

European Court of Justice limits the territorial scope of the 'right to be forgotten'

25-10-2019

Delivering its judgment in Google v Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés (CNIL) on 24 September 2019, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) held that Google does not have to remove search engine results worldwide in order to comply with a 'right to be forgotten' request under EU data protection law. The landmark decision limits the territorial scope of the EU right to de-referencing but leaves many open questions.

Delivering its judgment in Google v Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés (CNIL) on 24 September 2019, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) held that Google does not have to remove search engine results worldwide in order to comply with a 'right to be forgotten' request under EU data protection law. The landmark decision limits the territorial scope of the EU right to de-referencing but leaves many open questions.

Workshop on “Type-approval requirements for motor vehicles as regards their general safety and protection of vehicle occupants and vulnerable road users”

15-10-2019

In 2017, 25 300 people died in road accidents in Europe, while about a million were injured. Ms Róża THUN (MEP), the Chair of Digital Single Market Working Group of the IMCO Committee and the Rapporteur for the regulation on the “Type-approval requirements for motor vehicles as regards their general safety and the protection of vehicle occupants and vulnerable road users”, chaired this expert workshop in order to explore how technological means, including artificial intelligence, can reduce the number ...

In 2017, 25 300 people died in road accidents in Europe, while about a million were injured. Ms Róża THUN (MEP), the Chair of Digital Single Market Working Group of the IMCO Committee and the Rapporteur for the regulation on the “Type-approval requirements for motor vehicles as regards their general safety and the protection of vehicle occupants and vulnerable road users”, chaired this expert workshop in order to explore how technological means, including artificial intelligence, can reduce the number of victims of road accidents. This document was prepared by Policy Department A at the request of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection.

Parlamendiväline autor

Maria AUDERA, Pablo DELGADO CUBILLO and Andreea DOBRITA

What if technologies replaced humans in elderly care?

08-10-2019

Could technologies respond to the challenges associated with the ageing European population? While future assistive technologies for elderly care are promising, current technologies are not used to their full potential. Effective change should target all social groups, not only the elderly. ‘One-size-fits-all’ approaches for technology and policy are not well suited to elderly care because everyone has different abilities and individual circumstances. The establishment of a defined profession of ...

Could technologies respond to the challenges associated with the ageing European population? While future assistive technologies for elderly care are promising, current technologies are not used to their full potential. Effective change should target all social groups, not only the elderly. ‘One-size-fits-all’ approaches for technology and policy are not well suited to elderly care because everyone has different abilities and individual circumstances. The establishment of a defined profession of experts in the application of assistive technologies for elderly care could play an important role in supporting the development of the sector.

Hearings of the Commissioners-designate: Margrethe Vestager – Vice-President: A Europe fit for the digital age

26-09-2019

This briefing is one in a set looking at the Commissioners-designate and their portfolios as put forward by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. Each candidate faces a three-hour public hearing, organised by one or more parliamentary committees. After that process, those committees will judge the candidates' suitability for the role based on 'their general competence, European commitment and personal independence', as well as their 'knowledge of their prospective portfolio and their communication ...

This briefing is one in a set looking at the Commissioners-designate and their portfolios as put forward by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. Each candidate faces a three-hour public hearing, organised by one or more parliamentary committees. After that process, those committees will judge the candidates' suitability for the role based on 'their general competence, European commitment and personal independence', as well as their 'knowledge of their prospective portfolio and their communication skills'. At the end of the hearings process, Parliament votes on the proposed Commission as a bloc, and under the Treaties may only reject the entire College of Commissioners, rather than individual candidates. The Briefing provides an overview of key issues in the portfolio areas, as well as Parliament's activity in the last term in that field. It also includes a brief introduction to the candidate.

Hearings of the Commissioners-designate: Sylvie Goulard - Internal Market

26-09-2019

This briefing is one in a set looking at the Commissioners-designate and their portfolios as put forward by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. Each candidate faces a three-hour public hearing, organised by one or more parliamentary committees. After that process, those committees will judge the candidates' suitability for the role based on 'their general competence, European commitment and personal independence', as well as their 'knowledge of their prospective portfolio and their communication ...

This briefing is one in a set looking at the Commissioners-designate and their portfolios as put forward by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. Each candidate faces a three-hour public hearing, organised by one or more parliamentary committees. After that process, those committees will judge the candidates' suitability for the role based on 'their general competence, European commitment and personal independence', as well as their 'knowledge of their prospective portfolio and their communication skills'. At the end of the hearings process, Parliament votes on the proposed Commission as a bloc, and under the Treaties may only reject the entire College of Commissioners, rather than individual candidates. The Briefing provides an overview of key issues in the portfolio areas, as well as Parliament's activity in the last term in that field. It also includes a brief introduction to the candidate.

Consumers and repair of products

17-09-2019

Repairing broken or damaged products can save consumers money by helping them postpone making replacement purchases, while also bringing benefits to the environment through lower waste production and use of resources. The EU's circular economy strategy considers maintenance and repair to be important ways of both keeping resources from being thrown away and of prolonging the lifespan of products. A 2018 European Commission behavioural study on consumer engagement in the circular economy showed that ...

Repairing broken or damaged products can save consumers money by helping them postpone making replacement purchases, while also bringing benefits to the environment through lower waste production and use of resources. The EU's circular economy strategy considers maintenance and repair to be important ways of both keeping resources from being thrown away and of prolonging the lifespan of products. A 2018 European Commission behavioural study on consumer engagement in the circular economy showed that 64 % of consumers always repair broken or damaged products. The top reason for not repairing products was the high price of repair, followed by the preference to get a new product and the feeling that the old product was obsolete or out of fashion. As for repairers, especially independent ones, they often complain about having no access to original spare parts, technical information, diagnostic software and training, as manufacturers sometimes limit these to their own after-sales services or to recognised repairers of a specific brand. EU consumer legislation regulates the right of consumers to have products repaired within the legal guarantee period, but not beyond its expiry or for defects not covered by the guarantee. Efforts to ensure access to repair are also included in EU environmental and product legislation. The upcoming ecodesign requirements for TV screens, refrigerators, lighting, household washing machines and dishwashers are expected to ensure that independent repairers have access to spare parts and repair information. The European Parliament has called for extending the ecodesign requirements to non-energy related products, including the reparability of products, more systematically in ecodesign legislation, and extending the duration of legal guarantees. Similar calls have come from a range of stakeholders.

What if Libra disrupted the financial system?

13-09-2019

Facebook’s envisaged cryptocurrency project Libra may enable a way of more connected, digital banking. However, it also triggered a debate around the added value of cryptocurrencies. What would change for banks, businesses and consumers with the new digital currency?

Facebook’s envisaged cryptocurrency project Libra may enable a way of more connected, digital banking. However, it also triggered a debate around the added value of cryptocurrencies. What would change for banks, businesses and consumers with the new digital currency?

Blockchain and the General Data Protection Regulation

24-07-2019

In recent times, there has been much discussion in policy circles, academia and the private sector regarding the tension between blockchains and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (‘GDPR’). Whereas, the GDPR is based on an underlying assumption that in relation to each personal data point there is at least one the data controller, blockchains make the allocation of responsibility and accountability burdensome. Further, although the GDPR is based on the assumption that data can ...

In recent times, there has been much discussion in policy circles, academia and the private sector regarding the tension between blockchains and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (‘GDPR’). Whereas, the GDPR is based on an underlying assumption that in relation to each personal data point there is at least one the data controller, blockchains make the allocation of responsibility and accountability burdensome. Further, although the GDPR is based on the assumption that data can be modified or erased where necessary to comply with legal requirements, blockchains, however, render the unilateral modification of data purposefully onerous in order to ensure data integrity and to increase trust in the network.

Parlamendiväline autor

This study was written by Dr Michèle Finck

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