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EU policies – Delivering for citizens: Protecting European consumers

28-06-2019

Consumer protection rules have been improving the rights of consumers in the European Union since the 1970s. While the level of protection is today considered to be among the highest in the world, consumers in the EU are still faced with a number of issues. According to the latest available data, in 2016 one in five consumers said that they had had a reason to complain in the last 12 months, a level which has remained largely unchanged since 2008. Since 2014, efforts have been made in a number of ...

Consumer protection rules have been improving the rights of consumers in the European Union since the 1970s. While the level of protection is today considered to be among the highest in the world, consumers in the EU are still faced with a number of issues. According to the latest available data, in 2016 one in five consumers said that they had had a reason to complain in the last 12 months, a level which has remained largely unchanged since 2008. Since 2014, efforts have been made in a number of areas, including stronger cross-border cooperation between national authorities in charge of consumer protection and market surveillance. Notably, the Commission proposed a 'new deal for consumers' in April 2018, to enable representative legal actions for the protection of the collective interests of consumers and to modernise EU consumer protection rules. Sector-specific efforts included: eliminating roaming charges across the EU in 2017; legislation aimed at facilitating consumer participation in the digital single market; reforms on the rules on privacy and data protection; enhancing the rights of energy consumers and passengers; and efforts to address the 'dual quality' of branded food products. The EU budget for consumer protection is relatively small, because although rules in this field are made at the EU level, their implementation and enforcement are carried out by the Member States. The consumer programme has a budget of €188 million for the 2013-2020 period, or roughly €0.05 per citizen per year. This may change in the new multiannual financial framework, as consumer protection becomes part of a wider single market programme, which is expected to create synergies between its various components. Future policies could focus on longer product lifetime, labelling and quality requirements for non-agricultural and industrial products, fairer food labelling and retail financial services. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

Spirit drinks: Definition, labelling and geographical indications

28-05-2019

In December 2016, the European Commission proposed to replace Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 – the Spirit Drinks Regulation – with a new one, with the aim of aligning it with the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). The proposal mainly involves grouping the provisions adopted by the Commission into delegated and implementing acts. In addition, it replaces the existing procedures for the protection of geographical indications (GIs) of spirit drinks with new ones, modelled on the recently ...

In December 2016, the European Commission proposed to replace Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 – the Spirit Drinks Regulation – with a new one, with the aim of aligning it with the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). The proposal mainly involves grouping the provisions adopted by the Commission into delegated and implementing acts. In addition, it replaces the existing procedures for the protection of geographical indications (GIs) of spirit drinks with new ones, modelled on the recently updated procedures for quality schemes applied to agricultural products and foodstuffs. According to spirits industry representatives, the proposal contained some substantive changes that needed to be studied in detail to determine their impact. The Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) was responsible for the file in the European Parliament. A provisional agreement was reached at the third trilogue meeting, on 27 November 2018. The agreement was confirmed by the Special Committee on Agriculture in December 2018 and approved in the ENVI committee on 22 January 2019. A plenary vote in the EP was held on 13 March 2019. The act was signed on 17 April and the regulation published in the Official Journal on 17 May 2019. Third edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure. Please note this document has been designed for on-line viewing.

New EU rules on labelling of tyres

21-03-2019

On 17 May 2018, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a new regulation on the labelling of tyres for the purposes of fuel efficiency, safety, and noise reduction. This would replace the 2009 Tyre Labelling Regulation (TLR), while maintaining and reinforcing most of its key provisions. The proposed regulation would increase consumer awareness of the tyre label and improve market surveillance and enforcement of TLR provisions across the EU Member States. Suppliers would be obliged to display ...

On 17 May 2018, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a new regulation on the labelling of tyres for the purposes of fuel efficiency, safety, and noise reduction. This would replace the 2009 Tyre Labelling Regulation (TLR), while maintaining and reinforcing most of its key provisions. The proposed regulation would increase consumer awareness of the tyre label and improve market surveillance and enforcement of TLR provisions across the EU Member States. Suppliers would be obliged to display the tyre label in all forms of purchase, including where the tyre is not physically shown in the store and where it is sold online or on a long-distance basis. Whereas the tyre label is currently applicable to passenger and light-duty vehicles, in future it would also apply to heavy-duty vehicles. The new label would include visual information on tyre performance in snow or ice conditions, and could be adjusted by means of delegated acts to include information on mileage, abrasion or re-studded tyres. From 2020, all tyre labels would be included in the product registration database being set up as part of the revised EU framework for energy efficiency labelling. Whereas the Council finalised its position on 4 March 2019, the Parliament is expected to vote on its first-reading position, on the basis of the ITRE committee’s report, during the March II plenary session.

Review of the European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR): Updated rules on supervision of central counterparties (CCPs)

18-02-2019

The increasing importance of central counterparties (CCPs) and challenges such as the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the EU call for a more comprehensive supervision of CCPs in EU and non-EU countries to secure financial market infrastructure and build confidence. In June 2017, the Commission proposed amendments to Regulation (EU) No 1095/2010 (ESMA – European Securities and Markets Authority) and Regulation (EU) No 648/2012 (EMIR – European Market Infrastructure), to strengthen the regulatory ...

The increasing importance of central counterparties (CCPs) and challenges such as the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the EU call for a more comprehensive supervision of CCPs in EU and non-EU countries to secure financial market infrastructure and build confidence. In June 2017, the Commission proposed amendments to Regulation (EU) No 1095/2010 (ESMA – European Securities and Markets Authority) and Regulation (EU) No 648/2012 (EMIR – European Market Infrastructure), to strengthen the regulatory framework: EU CCPs would be supervised by national authorities in agreement with ESMA, and third-country CCPs subject to different requirements depending on whether (or not) they are systemically important. The European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (ECON) adopted its report in May 2018, and the Council agreed its position in November. Trilogue negotiations are now under way.

Revised Energy Efficiency Directive

16-01-2019

On 30 November 2016, the European Commission presented a proposal for a revised Energy Efficiency Directive, as part of the Clean Energy package. This aims to adapt and align EU energy legislation with the 2030 energy and climate goals, and contribute towards delivering the energy union strategy. The Commission initially proposed a 30 % binding EU energy efficiency target for 2030, to be achieved by means of indicative national targets and the extension beyond 2020 of the energy savings obligation ...

On 30 November 2016, the European Commission presented a proposal for a revised Energy Efficiency Directive, as part of the Clean Energy package. This aims to adapt and align EU energy legislation with the 2030 energy and climate goals, and contribute towards delivering the energy union strategy. The Commission initially proposed a 30 % binding EU energy efficiency target for 2030, to be achieved by means of indicative national targets and the extension beyond 2020 of the energy savings obligation scheme, which currently requires utility companies to help their consumers use 1.5 % less energy each year. The Commission proposal also aims to make the rules on energy metering and billing clearer for consumers. Trilogue negotiations started in February 2018 and resulted in a provisional agreement among the EU Institutions on 19 June 2018. The final text was formally adopted by Parliament (13 November 2018) and Council (4 December 2018). It was published in the Official Journal on 21 December 2018 and entered into force three days later. Member States are required to transpose most of the revised directive by 25 June 2020, although the provisions on metering and billing can be transposed by 25 October 2020. Fifth edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Framework for a pan-European personal pension product (PEPP)

21-11-2018

Europe’s population is ageing, due to people living longer and having fewer children, putting pressure on pension systems and leading to reforms to make public pensions more sustainable – and often less generous – in future. To support retirement incomes, the European Commission’s 2012 pensions white paper called for more opportunities for citizens to save in safe and good-value complementary pensions. The proposed framework for a pan-European personal pension product (PEPP) aims to encourage the ...

Europe’s population is ageing, due to people living longer and having fewer children, putting pressure on pension systems and leading to reforms to make public pensions more sustainable – and often less generous – in future. To support retirement incomes, the European Commission’s 2012 pensions white paper called for more opportunities for citizens to save in safe and good-value complementary pensions. The proposed framework for a pan-European personal pension product (PEPP) aims to encourage the development of personal pensions (that is, voluntary, individually funded pensions) in Europe, to support retirement saving and strengthen the single market for capital by making more funds available for investment. Generally the proposal is considered a welcome extra option to support retirement savings and investment. However differing national pension systems and tax treatments are noted as challenges, although the Commission has also issued a tax recommendation. Council agreed a general approach on 19 June 2018 and the ECON committee voted its report and negotiating mandate on 3 September, hence trilogues have started. Second edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure. Please note this document has been designed for on-line viewing.

Non-performing loans in the Banking Union - Stocktaking and challenges

15-10-2018

This briefing gives a short introduction into the topic non-performing loans (NPLs), takes stock of the current situation in the euro area, touches on the impact of NPLs on credit supply, and summarises the activities taken at European level to address the problem.

This briefing gives a short introduction into the topic non-performing loans (NPLs), takes stock of the current situation in the euro area, touches on the impact of NPLs on credit supply, and summarises the activities taken at European level to address the problem.

Mandatory origin-labelling schemes in Member States

12-09-2018

Eight EU Member States have launched, or are about to launch, national mandatory labelling schemes for certain food products, mainly for milk and milk used in dairy products, but also meat used in processed foods. The regulatory basis for these national measures is the Regulation on the provision of food information to consumers, which allows Member States to adopt additional national measures concerning the mandatory labelling of foodstuffs, as long as these are justified by reasons specifically ...

Eight EU Member States have launched, or are about to launch, national mandatory labelling schemes for certain food products, mainly for milk and milk used in dairy products, but also meat used in processed foods. The regulatory basis for these national measures is the Regulation on the provision of food information to consumers, which allows Member States to adopt additional national measures concerning the mandatory labelling of foodstuffs, as long as these are justified by reasons specifically defined in the regulation. The European Parliament has been supporting origin labelling in several resolutions. Consumer organisations have advocated it as well, while many industry stakeholders have highlighted the practical difficulties and costs it would bring. The European Commission has reiterated its position, based on its reports exploring the issue, that voluntary origin labelling is the best option at European level.

Cross-border parcel delivery services

05-07-2018

High prices and the inconvenience of cross-border parcel delivery have been identified as being among the main obstacles to greater uptake of e-commerce among European consumers and retailers. Research shows that current cross-border parcel delivery prices charged by universal service providers can be almost five times higher than domestic parcel delivery prices. To remedy the situation, the European Commission presented a legislative proposal on cross-border parcel delivery services as part of its ...

High prices and the inconvenience of cross-border parcel delivery have been identified as being among the main obstacles to greater uptake of e-commerce among European consumers and retailers. Research shows that current cross-border parcel delivery prices charged by universal service providers can be almost five times higher than domestic parcel delivery prices. To remedy the situation, the European Commission presented a legislative proposal on cross-border parcel delivery services as part of its May 2016 e-commerce package. The proposal’s aim was to contribute to a reduction in delivery prices through increased price transparency and improved regulatory oversight. The final act was signed in April 2018, following a compromise agreement between Parliament and the Council reached in December 2017. The new regulation will enable consumers and businesses to compare parcel delivery prices on a dedicated website, while national regulatory authorities will be provided with greater powers to monitor cross-border tariffs and assess those they consider to be unreasonably high. Fourth edition, based on an original briefing by Jana Valant. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure. Please note this document has been designed for on-line viewing.

Revision of consumer law directives (including injunctions):the 'New Deal for Consumers'

17-04-2018

Following the creation of an internal market, in which goods should be able to circulate freely to the benefit of producers, traders and consumers alike, the digital revolution has both increased the chances for growth in trade and highlighted the existing obstacles, such as differences in the details of consumer protection legislation. Following an extensive evaluation exercise focused on a number of EU directives adopted over the years, the European Commission is keen to simplify, streamline and ...

Following the creation of an internal market, in which goods should be able to circulate freely to the benefit of producers, traders and consumers alike, the digital revolution has both increased the chances for growth in trade and highlighted the existing obstacles, such as differences in the details of consumer protection legislation. Following an extensive evaluation exercise focused on a number of EU directives adopted over the years, the European Commission is keen to simplify, streamline and modernise the existing EU consumer rules to ensure that they are future-proof, as well as to facilitate the necessary coordination and effective action from national authorities and public enforcement bodies. In its 2018 work programme, the European Commission announced that it would be introducing a package of legislative proposals including a wide range of proposed directives. The package is aimed at filling a number of very specific gaps in current EU consumer law, while also taking due account of ongoing legislative procedures related to online and offline sales of goods and digital content. This implementation appraisal aims to cover all the directives (cf. tables 1-7) that form the basis of the area targeted by the package.

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