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

REPORT     ***I
PDF 275kWORD 405k
23.2.2006
PE 364.886v04-00 A6-0032/2006

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))

Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection

Rapporteur: Marianne Thyssen

AMENDMENTS
DRAFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 OPINION of the Committee on Budgets
 OPINION of the Committee on Legal Affairs
 PROCEDURE

DRAFT 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.  Stresses that the appropriations mentioned in the Commission proposal for the period after 2006 are subject to the decision on the next multiannual financial framework;

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

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.

Text proposed by the Commission  Amendments by Parliament

Amendment 1

Titleof the Programme

establishing a programme of Community action in the field of health and consumer protection (2007-2013)

establishing a programme of Community action in the field of consumer protection (2007-2013)

Justification

This amendment follows from the Decision of the Conference of Presidents of 30 June 2005 to split the programme into its component parts (consumer protection and health).

Amendment 2

Citation 1

Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Community, and in particular Articles 152 and 153 thereof,

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

Justification

This amendment follows from the Decision of the Conference of Presidents of 30 June 2005 to split the programme into its component parts (consumer protection and health).

Amendment 3

Recital 1

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

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

Justification

This amendment follows from the Decision of the Conference of Presidents of 30 June 2005 to split the programme into its component parts (consumer protection and health).

Amendment 4

Recital 2

(2) It is therefore appropriate to establish a programme of Community action on health and consumer protection, replacing Decision No 1786/2002/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 September 2002 adopting a programme of Community action in the field of public health (2003-2008) and 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. These Decisions should therefore be repealed.

(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. This Decision should therefore be repealed.

Justification

This amendment follows from the Decision of the Conference of Presidents of 30 June 2005 to split the programme into its component parts (consumer protection and health).

Amendment 5

Recital 3

(3) Whilst maintaining the core elements and specificities of actions on health and consumer protection, a single integrated programme should help to maximise synergies in objectives and efficiency in administration of actions in these areas. Combining health and consumer protection activities in a single programme should help to meet joint objectives on protecting citizens from risks and threats, increasing the ability for citizens to have the knowledge and opportunity to make decisions in their interests and supporting mainstreaming of health and consumer objectives in all Community policies and activities. Combining administrative structures and systems should enable more efficient implementation of the programme and help to make best use of available Community resources for health and consumer protection.

deleted

Justification

This amendment follows from the Decision of the Conference of Presidents of 30 June 2005 to split the programme into its component parts (consumer protection and health).

Amendment 6

Recital 4

(4) Health and consumer protection policies share common objectives relating to protection against risks, improving decision-making of citizens and integrating health and consumer protection interests in all Community policies, as well as common instruments such as communication, capacity-building for civil society regarding health and consumer protection issues, and promoting international cooperation on these issues. Issues such as diet and obesity, tobacco and other consumption-related choices related to health are examples of cross-cutting issues affecting both health and consumer protection. Taking a joint approach to these common objectives and instruments will enable activities common to both health and consumer protection to be undertaken more efficiently and effectively. There are also separate objectives relating to each of the two areas of health and consumer protection which should be addressed through actions and instruments specific to each of the two areas.

deleted

Justification

This amendment follows from the Decision of the Conference of Presidents of 30 June 2005 to split the programme into its component parts (consumer protection and health).

Amendment 7

Recital 5

(5) Coordination with other Community policies and programmes is a key part of the joint objective of mainstreaming health and consumer policies in other policies. In order to promote synergies and avoid duplication, appropriate use will be made of other Community funds and programmes including the Community framework programmes for research and their outcomes, the Structural Funds, and the Community Statistical Programme.

(5) 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.

Justification

Seeks to provide a firmer basis for the integrated policy which is needed in the interest of consumer protection.

Amendment 8

Recital 6

(6) It is of general European interest that the health, safety and 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.

(6) It is of general European interest that the safety of services and non-food products and 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.

Justification

This amendment follows from the Decision of the Conference of Presidents of 30 June 2005 to split the programme into its component parts (consumer protection and health).

Amendment 9

Recital 7

(7) Implementation of the programme should build upon and extend existing actions and structural arrangements in the fields of public health and consumer protection, including the Executive Agency for the Public Health Programme set up by Commission Decision 2004/858/EC. Implementation should be carried out in close cooperation with relevant organisations and agencies, in particular with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control established by Regulation (EC) No 851/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council.

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

Justification

This amendment follows from the Decision of the Conference of Presidents of 30 June 2005 to split the programme into its component parts (consumer protection and health).

Amendment 10

Recital 8 a (new)

 

(8a) 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 States1.

_________________________

1 Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2005)0526.

Justification

The Committee on Internal Market and Consumer protection has adopted the report on Promotion and Protection of Consumers in the new Member States unanimously, and a great commitment by Parliament to strengthening of consumer protection in the new Member States is clear. It is therefore important that the objectives of this report are kept in mind both by the Commission and the Member States when implementing the Consumer programme 2007-2013.

Amendment 11

Recital 9

(9) The Agreement on the European Economic Area (hereinafter referred to as the EEA Agreement) provides for cooperation in the fields of health and 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, taking particular account of the potential for threats to health arising in other countries to have an impact within the Community.

(9) 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.

Justification

This amendment follows from the Decision of the Conference of Presidents of 30 June 2005 to split the programme into its component parts (consumer protection and health).

Amendment 12

Recital 11

(11) It is appropriate to develop cooperation with relevant international organisations such as the United Nations and its specialised agencies including the World Health Organisation, as well as with the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development with a view to implementing the programme through maximising the effectiveness and efficiency of actions relating to health and consumer protection at Community and international level, taking account of the particular capacities and roles of the different organisations.

(11) 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.

Amendment 13

Recital 12

(12) 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.

(12) 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.

Amendment 14

Recital 12 a (new)

 

(12a) 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 applied by them.

Justification

Small business operators play an essential day-to-day role in informing and advising the consumers with whom they come into direct contact. It is thus essential to ensure, as far upstream as possible, that European consumer protection policy can be directly implemented by these small businesses. In this context it is essential, before any new direction is taken, to carry out systematic impact studies on craft industries and small businesses.

Amendment 15

Recital 13

(13) Since the objectives of the action to be taken on health and 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 health, 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.

(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.

Justification

This amendment follows from the Decision of the Conference of Presidents of 30 June 2005 to split the programme into its component parts (consumer protection and health).

Amendment 16

Recital 14

(14) The Commission should ensure an appropriate transition between this programme and the two programmes it replaces, in particular regarding the continuation of multi-annual measures and administrative support structures such as the Executive Agency for the Public Health Programme.

(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 the evaluation of the successes of the previous programme and areas that need more attention.

Justification

This amendment follows from the Decision of the Conference of Presidents from 30 June 2005 to split the programme into its component parts (consumer protection and health).

Amendment 17

Recital 14 a (new)

 

(14a) 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 to 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.

Amendment 18

Article 1

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

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.

Justification

This amendment follows from the Decision of the Conference of Presidents of 30 June 2005 to split the programme into its component parts (consumer protection and health).

Amendment 19

Article 2, paragraph 1

1. The programme shall complement and support the policies of the Member States and shall contribute to protecting the health, safety and economic interests of citizens.

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.

Justification

This amendment follows from the Decision of the Conference of Presidents of 30 June 2005 to split the programme into its component parts (consumer protection and health).

Amendment 20

Article 2, paragraph 2

2. The aim referred to in paragraph 1 shall be pursued through common objectives together with specific objectives in the fields of health and consumer protection.

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 3:

(a) The common objectives for health and consumer protection to be pursued through the actions and instruments set out in Annex 1 to this Decision shall be:

 

- to protect citizens from risks and threats that are beyond the control of individuals;

 

- to increase the ability of citizens to take better decisions about their health and consumer interests;

 

- and to mainstream health and consumer policy objectives.

 

(b) The specific health objectives to be pursued through the actions and instruments set out in Annex 2 to this Decision shall be:

 

- to protect citizens against health treats to promote policies that lead to a healthier way of life;

 

- to contribute to reducing the incidence of major diseases;

 

- and to improve efficiency and effectiveness in health systems

 

(c) The specific consumer protection objectives to be pursued through the actions and instruments set out in Annex 3 to this Decision shall be :

 

- a better understanding of consumers and markets;

- a better understanding of consumers and markets, with special attention being paid to the different needs of various age groups;

- better consumer protection regulation

- better consumer protection regulation, including greater participation of consumer representatives, other civil society stakeholders and research bodies, that can be complied with by small busineses and craft industries;

- better enforcement, monitoring and redress;

- better enforcement, monitoring and judical and extra-judical means of redress; and

 

 

- and better informed and educated and responsible consumers.

- better informed, educated and responsible consumers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Justification

This amendment follows from the Decision of the Conference of Presidents from 30 June 2005 to split the programme into its component parts (consumer protection and health).

Amendment 21

Article 3, paragraph 2, point a

(a) 60% for an action intended to help achieve an objective forming part of a Community policy within the field of health and consumer protection, except in cases of exceptional utility where the Community contribution shall not exceed 80%; and,

(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 3a;

Amendment 22

Article 3, paragraph 2, point b

(b) 60% of expenditure for the functioning of a body pursuing an aim of general European interest where such support is necessary to ensure representation of health or consumer interests at Community level or to implement key objectives of the programme, except in cases of exceptional utility where the Community contribution shall not exceed 95%. The renewal of such financial contributions may be exempted from the principle of gradual decrease.

(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 3a; and

Amendment 23

Article 3, paragraph 2, point b a (new)

 

(ba) 95% of expenditure for the functioning of European consumer organisations representing consumer interests in the development of standards for products and services at Community level under the conditions set out in Annex 3a.

Amendment 24

Article 3, paragraph 2 a (new)

 

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

Amendment 25

Article 3, paragraph 3

3. For the purpose of paragraph 1(a) above, 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%. These Community contributions 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 by the Commission.

3. For the purpose of paragraph 1(a) above, 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%.

Amendment 26

Article 3, paragraph 4 a (new)

 

4a. The criteria for assessing whether or not exceptional utility as referred to in paragraphs 2(a) and 3 applies shall be established in advance in the annual plan of work referred to in Article 7(1)(a).

Amendment 27

Article 5, paragraph 1

1. The financial framework for the implementation of the programme for the period specified in Article 1 is EUR 1 203 million.

1. The indicative financial framework for the implementation of the present programme for the 7-year period beginning on 1 January 2007 specified in Article 1 is EUR 23 346 million.

Justification

This amendment follows from the Decision of the Conference of Presidents of 30 June 2005 to split the programme into its component parts (consumer protection and health) and the EP resolution on Policy Challenges and Budgetary Means of the enlarged Union 2007-2013 from 8 June 2005 (Financial Perspectives - Böge Report).

Amendment 28

Article 7, paragraph 1, point a

(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;

(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;

Amendment 29

Article 11

Decisions No 1786/2002/EC and No 20/2004/EC are repealed.

Decision No 20/2004/EC is repealed.

Justification

This amendment follows from the Decision of the Conference of Presidents of 30 June 2005 to split the programme into its component parts (consumer protection and health).

Amendment 30

Article 12

The Commission shall adopt any measures necessary to ensure the transition between the measures adopted under Decisions No 1786/2002/EC and No 20/2004/EC and those to be implemented under this programme.

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.

Justification

This amendment follows from the Decision of the Conference of Presidents of 30 June 2005 to split the programme into its component parts (consumer protection and health).

Amendment 31

Annex 1

 

This annex is deleted.

Justification

This amendment follows from the Decision of the Conference of Presidents of 30 June 2005 to split the programme into its component parts (consumer protection and health).

Amendment 32

Annex 2

 

This annex is deleted.

Justification

This amendment follows from the Decision of the Conference of Presidents of 30 June 2005 to split the programme into its component parts (consumer protection and health).

Amendment 33

Annex 3 a (new)

 

ANNEX 3a: 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)(ba) may be awarded to Community consumer organisations which:

 

(a) are non-governmental, non-profitmaking, 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(3) 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.

Amendment 34

Title of Annex 3

ANNEX 3: Consumer Policy - Actions and Support Measures

ANNEX: Actions and Instruments referred to in Article 2

Justification

This amendment follows from the Decision of the Conference of Presidents of 30 June 2005 to split the programme into its component parts (consumer protection and health).

Amendment 35

Annex 3, Section ‘Objective I’, Action 3

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

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.

Amendment 36

Annex 3, Section ‘Objective I’, Action 3 a (new)

 

Action 3a: 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.

Justification

An instrument of this kind would improve the political impact of consumer policy at European level and help to launch a major public debate every two or three years on the changes linked to consumption and consumer protection.

Amendment 37

Annex 3, Section ‘Objective I’, Action 3 b (new)

 

Action 3b: 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.

Justification

It is essential to carry out an inventory of the existing legislation, regulations and practices in the various Member States. Consumer protection is a subject taken into account both by a number of Member States and also by businesses, whatever their size. Steps should be taken to ensure that the European Union takes account of existing legislation and endeavours to ensure that the Member States without such legislation are encouraged to remedy this deficiency.

Amendment 38

Annex 3, Section "Objective II"

Objective II - Better consumer protection regulation

Objective II - Better and uniform consumer protection regulation

Action 4:         Preparation of legislative and other regulatory initiatives and promotion of self-regulatory initiatives, including:

Action 4:         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:

4.1. Comparative analysis of markets and regulatory systems.

4.1. Comparative analysis of markets and regulatory systems.

4.2. Legal and technical expertise for policy making on the safety of services.

4.2. Legal and technical expertise for policy making on the safety of services.

4.3. Technical expertise in relation to assessment of the need for product safety standards and the drafting of CEN standardisation mandates for products and services.

4.3. Technical expertise in relation to assessment of the need for product safety standards and the drafting of CEN standardisation mandates for products and services.

4.4. Legal and technical expertise for policy development on the economic interests of consumers.

4.4. Legal and technical expertise for policy development on the economic interests of consumers.

4.5. Workshops with stakeholders and experts.

4.5. Workshops with stakeholders and experts.

 

4.5a Dialogue between European consumer organisations, representatives of business - with particular attention to small and medium-sized enteprises - and the Commission.

 

4.5b Legal and technical expertise for the development of a harmonisation instrument on consumer protection and cross-border agreements.

 

4.5c 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.

Amendment 39

Annex 3, Section ‘Objective III’, Action 5 a (new)

 

Action 5a: Establishment of a general institutional and legal framework for cooperation between Member States as regards the application of legislation.

Justification

In an increasingly integrated single market national authorities are responsible for actual compliance with laws in the sphere of consumer protection. This obligation applies not only to their own consumers, but to all consumers in the EU. The required institutional and legal framework either does not exist or is at an embryonic stage.

Amendment 40

Annex 3, Section "Objective III", Action 7, point 3 a (new)

 

7.3a. Supporting scientific advice and risk evaluation, including the tasks of the independent scientific committees established by Commission Decision 2004/210/EC1.

___________

1 OJ L 66, 4.3.2004, p. 45..

Amendment 41

Annex 3, Section "Objective III", Action 7, point 4 a (new)

 

7.4a. 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.

Justification

This amendment follows from the Decision of the Conference of Presidents from 30 June 2005 to split the programme into its component parts (consumer and health).

Amendment 42

Annex 3, Section "Objective III", Action 7, point 4 b (new)

 

7.4b. Development of methodologies and database maintenance for the purpose of data collection on injuries in relation to the safety of consumer products and services.

Amendment 43

Annex 3, Section ‘Objective III’, Action 9

Action 9: Monitoring of the transposition and implementation of consumer protection legislation by Member States, notably the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, and of national consumer policies.

Action 9: Monitoring of the transposition and implementation of consumer protection legislation by Member States, notably the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive and the Regulation on administrative cooperation, and of national consumer policies.

Justification

This rule constitutes an important step forward in ensuring that the Member States work together to ensure respect for consumer policy.

Amendment 44

Annex 3, Section "Objective III", Action 10

Action 10: Provision of specific technical and legal expertise to consumer organisations to support their contribution to enforcement and surveillance actions.

Action 10: 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.

Amendment 45

Annex 3, Section "Objective IV", Action 10 a (new)

 

Action 10a: Improving communication with EU citizens on consumer issues, including:

 

10.1. Conferences and seminars and meetings of experts and stakeholders

 

10.2. Publications on issues of interest for consumer policy

 

10.3. Provision of online information.

Amendment 46

Annex 3, Title of Section "Objective IV"

Objective IV. Better informed and educated and responsible consumers

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

Justification

This amendment follows from the Decision of the Conference of Presidents of 30 June 2005 to split the programme into its component parts (consumer and health).

Amendment 47

Annex 3, Section "Objective IV", Action 12

Action 12: Information actions about consumer protection measures, particularly in the new Member States, in cooperation with their consumer organisations

Action 12: Information actions about consumer protection measures and consumer rights, particularly in the new Member States, in cooperation with their consumer organisations.

Amendment 48

Annex 3, Section "Objective IV", Action 13

Action 13: Consumer education, including the actions targeted at young consumers, and the development of interactive consumer education tools.

Action 13: 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.

Amendment 49

Annex 3, Objective IV, Action 16

Action 16: 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 appropriate dispute resolution (the European Consumer Centres Network.)

Action 16: 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.

Justification

The scope of this action should be as broad as possible and clearly cover the existing mechanisms that are available to the citizen, including the SOLVIT system. Particular attention for new or acceding Member States is necessary to support their less well-developed consumer organisations.

Amendment 50

Annex 3, Section "Objective IV", Action 18 a (new)

 

Action 18a: 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.

Justification

Consumer organisations in the new Member States are in particular need of capacity building as most of them are just starting to develop. Many of these organisations do not receive any government support, nor are they able to develop services for which consumers would pay, as consumers are not even aware that they have rights. They therefore lack financial resources and cannot build up expertise. There is also an awareness problem, not only among consumers, but also among politicians from the new Member States, who have not had the same experience working with consumer organisations as their counterparts from the old Member States.

Amendment 51

Annex 3, Section "Objective IV" a (new)

 

Objective IVa - 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 neeeds of society and avoid overlapping

 

Action 19a: Promotion and strengthening of Community level consumer organisations.

 

Action 19b: Networking of non-governmental consumer organisations and other stakeholders.

 

Action 19c: Strengthening of Community level consultative bodies and mechanisms.

Justification

This amendment follows from the Decision of the Conference of Presidents from 30 June 2005 to split the programme into its component parts (consumer and health).

Amendment 52

Annex 3, Section "Objective IV" b (new)

 

Objective IVb - Mainstreaming of consumer policy objectives

 

Action 19d: Development and application of methods of assessing the impact of Community policies and activities on consumer interests.

 

Action 19e: Exchange of best practice with Member States on national policies.

Justification

Amendment 53

Annex 3, Section "Objective IV c (new)"

 

Objective IVc - Promotion of international cooperation related to consumer protection

 

Action 19f: Measures for cooperation with international organisations.

 

Action 19g: Measuers for co-operation with third countries which do not participate in the programme.

 

Action 19h: Encouragement of dialogue between consumer organisations.

Justification

This amendment follows from the Decision of the Conference of Presidents of 30 June 2005 to split the programme into its component parts (consumer and health).

Amendment 54

Annex 3, Section "Common to all objectives", Action 20

Action 20: Financial contributions for specific projects at Community or national level in support of other consumer policy objectives.

Action 20: 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.

(1)

Not yet published in OJ.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

1. Background to, and structure of, the new strategy and the decision proposed by the Commission

A 'programme of Community action in the field of public health (2003-2008)', established by Decision No 1786/2002/EC of the European Parliament and the Council on the basis of Article 152 of the Treaty, is currently in place. Separately from this, there is also a programme of action 'establishing a general framework for financing Community actions in support of consumer policy for the years 2004 to 2007'. The decision establishing this programme, Decision No 20/2004/EC, was taken on the basis of Article 153 of the Treaty.

The Commission is proposing that these two decisions be repealed before the programmes are due to expire and replaced by an integrated programme running for seven years, beginning in 2007. The Commission is convinced that its proposal to integrate the programmes will make Community policy more efficient, coherent and visible, given that both areas have certain shared objectives and similar types of actions are often used to pursue them. Thanks to streamlined administrative and budgetary procedures and with the help of a joint 'executive agency', a joint programme would, in the Commission's view, ultimately deliver savings.

In order to exploit the synergies three 'core joint objectives' and six 'common actions' are set out in the proposal. A budget line is also proposed, with an amount of EUR 1 203 million. In addition, the executive agency set up in 2004 for the public health programme is to be extended and will encompass consumer protection.

In order to respond to stakeholders' expectations, the specific nature of the two policy areas continues to be taken into account and the programme is to retain the specific features of actions in each area and further develop them. Consequently, in addition to the section on common action there is also a separate section on health and a separate section on consumer policy actions and support measures.

2. Rapporteur's comments on the integrated action programme structure

Your rapporteur advocates splitting the integrated programme into a new consumer protection programme and a new public health programme. Neither the practical nor the policy arguments in favour of integrating the aforementioned action programmes are convincing. The synergies aimed at will in practice be much smaller than hoped for. And the economies of scale to which the Commission refers are nowhere demonstrated in the impact study, which runs to many pages. Another argument against an integrated programme relates to the Commission's powers in the two areas, which are too different.

The idea of integrating the programmes also does not square well with the respective social objectives of the civil society organisations involved in the two fields. The same applies to the way in which powers are allocated internally in the Member States, and the fact that, as a rule, they are not only spread across the various departments but, in federal states, also across various policy levels. Furthermore, users of public health services cannot in every respect be treated in the same way as 'pure' consumers.

In addition to these substantive and institutional reasons, there are also budgetary considerations justifying keeping the two programmes separate. Each sector has greater certainty when it has its own budget line. It is also striking that no one has requested this 'merger' and that, in general, stakeholders (certainly on the consumer side) do not support it.

Your rapporteur therefore proposes - in consultation with the rapporteur for the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, and with the endorsement of the Conference of Presidents - that the proposal be split and that the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection look only at consumer protection. The following comments therefore deal solely with the consumer protection aspects of the proposed multiannual programme.

3. Rapporteur's comments on the action programme on consumer protection

Article 1 establishes the programme for a seven-year period (2007-2013) as the successor to the current programme, which is repealed in Article 11. This is wholly in accordance with the request made earlier by the Parliament to the Commission (resolution of 8 June 2005 on Policy Challenges and Budgetary Means of the Enlarged Union 2007-2013, Böge report). Although the current consumer programme has not yet expired, it is appropriate to begin in good time with the legislative programme and have it run for a period coinciding with the (hoped-for) interinstitutional agreement on the financial perspective.

Article 2 sets out the objectives, which are fleshed out with actions and instruments in the annex. The key elements of the current programme are retained, but reordered and extended. In future, for example, attention will be paid to deepening knowledge of, and extending scientific data on, consumer demand and behaviour and markets. The development of reliable indicators and benchmarks for consumer policy is also new. If these are subsequently used as an instrument for evaluating the results of programmes, progress will also be possible in this area. In your rapporteur's view, the indicators used up to now are, regrettably, too one-sidedly quantitative and too subjective and could therefore well be improved.

As a consequence of the split, some objectives and actions set out in the list of common objectives and in the annex must be reformulated and moved.

As regards the substance of the concrete actions, more - and explicit - attention needs to be paid to:

- the new Member States, where there is often a less long‑standing tradition in the area of consumer protection and consumer involvement in policy, as a result of which awareness of consumer rights and consumer organisations' capabilities are still too limited;

- the ageing of the population, bearing in mind that some older people are among those consumers less able to defend their interests;

- making vulnerable consumers, for whom it is not always possible to guarantee adequate, legally secure protection under the law, and to whom additional attention should therefore be paid in action programmes, more able to defend their interests.

Article 3 lays down the methods of implementation and the maximum amount of the Community's contribution to actions and expenditure for the functioning of certain organisations. It is noticeable that the ceilings for the Community's financial contribution have been considerably increased and the criteria for allocation, as well as the conditions for exceptionally applying higher ceilings, are much less clear than in the current programme. Little justification for this is to be found in the impact study. It is therefore better - unless adequate additional arguments are given by the Commission - to keep the normal maximum at 50% and to agree to the exceptional maxima at the increased level provided that systematic, explicit justification is given for the 'exceptional utility' which is the reason for applying the higher ceiling.

Articles 4, 6 and 7 entrust implementation to the Commission, which is to be assisted by a committee (under the commitology procedure).

Article 5 lays down, subject to later approval by the budgetary authority, the total budget for the whole period of the programme. In view of the splitting of the proposed programme into two separate programmes, this budget should be adjusted. For this purpose, your rapporteur has applied the distribution formula used by the Commission itself, giving a total sum of EUR 233.46 million. This sum represents a considerable increase in the financial resources allocated to the consumer programme. This is justified in the light of - inter alia - the impact of the previous enlargement of the European Union and the future enlargement to include countries with a less deep-rooted tradition of consumer protection. It is also in accordance with the aforementioned Parliament resolution of 8 June 2005.

Articles 8 and 9 deal with international aspects. Unlike under the previous programme, provision is rightly made for possible participation by countries covered by neighbourhood agreements, countries involved in accession procedures or applying for membership and certain western Balkan countries.

Article 10 relates to monitoring, (interim) evaluation and dissemination of results.

Article 12 charges the Commission with taking any necessary transitional measures.

Executive agency

In the articles of the proposal there is no reference to possible delegation of implementing powers in respect of the programme to an 'executive agency'. However, mention is made of this in recital 14 and in the Communication from the Commission which is contained together with the proposal in the same Commission document.

In your rapporteur's view, there would be benefits to a decision by the Commission to delegate powers. The Commission would have more room to pursue its policy tasks and would be able to put more of its efforts into adapting the 'acquis' more quickly, taking account of the objectives of 'better regulation'. If the Commission plans to take a decision to delegate powers, your rapporteur recommends that a cost-effectiveness analysis is first carried out, that delegated powers are restricted to logistical and administrative tasks and that they are entrusted to the executive agency set up for the public health programme, the name of which should if necessary be changed. The consumer protection section of the agency should preferably not be called an 'institute'. This would be very misleading in relation to its powers.

Language

Finally, your rapporteur wishes to complain about the inadequate attention, or the complete lack of attention, paid to the translation of Commission documents in this dossier. The extended impact study is available only in a panaché language version (alternately French and English, even within a single chapter). And, moreover, even the two annexes that form part of the communication (which has itself been translated) setting out the strategy and contained in the same COM document, are - in all of the language versions of the document - regrettably only available in English.


OPINION of the Committee on Budgets (27.1.2006)

for the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection

on the proposal for a European Parliament and Council decision 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))

Draftswoman: Brigitte Douay

SHORT JUSTIFICATION

PREAMBLE

This communication aims to set up a joint health and consumer protection programme. The public health aspect falls within the remit of the environment committee and will be dealt with separately. The purpose of the present document is to deliver an opinion on the consumer protection aspect for the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, the committee responsible.

INTRODUCTION

The aim of this programme is to harmonise consumer protection throughout the single market, so that citizens can move around the Union and buy goods with the same confidence as in their countries of origin.

The programme will be organised around objectives that are common to health and consumer protection and around objectives that are specific to each of them.

The common objectives of the health and consumer protection aspects are:(1)

· To protect citizens from risks and threats which are beyond the control of individuals and that cannot be effectively tackled by individual Member States alone (e.g. health threats, unsafe products, unfair commercial practices).

· To increase the ability of citizens to take better decisions about their health and consumer interests.

· To mainstream health and consumer policy objectives across all Community policies in order to put health and consumer issues at the centre of policy-making.

Consumer protection is organised around four specific objectives, which are based on those pursued in the 2002-2006 programme:

· Better understanding of consumers and markets;

· Better consumer protection regulation;

· Better enforcement, monitoring and redress;

· Better-informed and -educated consumers.

All of these objectives must be implemented by seeking synergies with other Community policies. In more general terms, coordination between consumer protection policy and other policies (research or structural policies) should be encouraged, so that it can become the norm.

FINANCIAL RESOURCES

The budget allocated for the period amounts to € 1 203 million (excluding administrative costs), spread over five budget items (3 for public health, 2 for consumer protection: 17 02 01 and 17 01 04 03), and calls for the use of an executive agency. On this subject, the committee recommends that the remit of the executive agency for health be extended, so that the latter can provide the technical assistance required by this programme in a rational and effective fashion, bearing in mind the doubling of appropriations in comparison with the current programme.

The budget allocation for the whole period is divided up as follows:

           € 110 981 million for measures common to the two policies

€ 804 995 million for health

€ 193 838 million for consumer protection

€ 93 185 million allocated to funding the Consumer Institute (executive agency).

COMMENTS

The rapporteur welcomes the Commission proposal, particularly the significant increase in the budget allocated to consumer protection, and the Commission’s wish to incorporate this policy in all Community programmes and instruments.

The rapporteur nevertheless wishes to make the following comments:

1.        It should be pointed out that the amount referred to in Article 5 must be regarded as purely indicative until final agreement has been reached on the financial perspectives.

2.        Counterfeiting, which initially affected luxury industries in the form of fraudulent copying of trademarks, designs and models, has now spread to all areas of the economy. It no longer affects only major companies, but also SMEs and, above all, consumers, since counterfeit products pose an increasing risk to consumer health and safety, whether in the form of adulterated medicines, defective electrical appliances, substandard spare parts, cosmetics which are nothing short of toxic, or dangerous toys. This is why consumers, who – knowingly, naively or unwittingly – are the potential customers of counterfeiters, must be better informed of the real dangers to themselves and their families, and the legal penalties that can be incurred.

3.        All possible synergies between Community instruments on consumer protection must be set in motion in order to optimise the performance of this programme, the budget for which is relatively limited given the importance of what is at stake.

4.        The Commission must therefore take all necessary measures to ensure that the programme is as cost-effective as possible, and show in an interim evaluation report the progress achieved in this area over a period of five years.

AMENDMENTS

The Committee on Budgets calls on the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following amendments in its report:

Draft legislative resolution

Amendment 1

Paragraph 1 a (new)

1a. Stresses that the appropriations mentioned in the legislative proposal for the period after 2006 are subject to the decision on the next multiannual financial framework;

Amendment 2

Paragraph 1 b (new)

1b. Calls on the Commission, if appropriate, to present a proposal aimed at adjusting the financial reference amount of the present programme when the next multiannual financial framework is adopted;

Justification

The financial reference amount cannot be determined until the financial perspectives have been finally adopted. Once this decision is made, the Commission will have to present a legislative proposal in order to determine the reference amount, taking account of the corresponding ceiling of the financial framework.

Proposal for a decision

Text proposed by the Commission(2)  Amendments by Parliament

Amendment 3

Recital 4

(4)       Health and consumer protection policies share common objectives relating to protection against risks, improving decision-making of citizens and integrating health and consumer protection interests in all Community policies, as well as common instruments such as communication, capacity-building for civil society regarding health and consumer protection issues, and promoting international cooperation on these issues. Issues such as diet and obesity, tobacco and other consumption-related choices related to health are examples of cross-cutting issues affecting both health and consumer protection. Taking a joint approach to these common objectives and instruments will enable activities common to both health and consumer protection to be undertaken more efficiently and effectively. There are also separate objectives relating to each of the two areas of health and consumer protection which should be addressed through actions and instruments specific to each of the two areas.

(4)       Health and consumer protection policies share common objectives relating to protection against risks, improving decision-making of citizens and integrating health and consumer protection interests in all Community policies, as well as common instruments such as communication, capacity-building for civil society regarding health and consumer protection issues, and promoting international cooperation on these issues. Issues such as diet and obesity, tobacco, at-risk behaviours and other consumption-related choices related to health are examples of cross-cutting issues affecting both health and consumer protection. Counterfeiting, which deceives consumers and at the same time endangers their health, must also be vigorously combated at European level. Taking a joint approach to these common objectives and instruments will enable activities common to both health and consumer protection to be undertaken more efficiently and effectively. There are also separate objectives relating to each of the two areas of health and consumer protection which should be addressed through actions and instruments specific to each of the two areas.

Justification

Action must be taken at European and international level to step up the fight against counterfeiting, which is tantamount to stealing products and trademarks; it is deceptive to consumers, a danger to health and harmful to employment (it is estimated that 100,000 jobs are lost every year in the European Union as a result of counterfeiting).

Amendment 4

Article 3, paragraph 2, point (b)

(b) 60 % of expenditure for the functioning of a body pursuing an aim of general European interest where such support is necessary to ensure representation of health or consumer interests at Community level or to implement key objectives of the programme, except in case of exceptional utility where the Community contribution shall not exceed 95 %. The renewal of such financial contributions may be exempted from the principle of gradual decrease.

(b) 60 % of expenditure for the functioning of a body pursuing an aim of general European interest where such support is necessary to ensure representation of health or consumer interests at Community level or to implement key objectives of the programme, except in case of exceptional utility, as in the case of bodies representing consumers in the context of standardisation, where the Community contribution shall not exceed 95 %.

The Commission may, as a general rule, seek to grant core funding on a two-year basis by means of a network partnership convention. In accordance with Article 163 of Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2342/2002 laying down the implementing rules for the Financial Regulation1 applicable to the general budget of the European Communities, such a network partnership convention establishes long-term cooperation between the recipient and the Commission which may not, however, exceed two years.

____________________________________

1 Commission Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2342/2002 of 23 December 2002 laying down detailed rules for the implementation of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/ 2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities (OJ L 357, 31.12.2002, p. 1).

Justification

The application of Article 163 of the Implementing Rules of the Financial Regulation will provide the relevant consumer organisations with more financial certainty and reduce the administrative burden of both the Commission and the European consumer organisations. Core financing is, contrary to project funding, by nature distributed to organisations which pursue long term objectives. Therefore, the possibility of establishing a long-term cooperation is especially suited to applicants for core funding.

Amendment 5

Article 4

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

The Commission shall ensure the implementation of the programme in accordance with the provisions of Article 7, making use inter alia of the measures and mechanisms already in existence in the areas of health and consumer protection in order to foster synergies and guarantee successful coordination and high visibility for the measures implemented.

Amendment 6

Article 5, paragraph 1

1. The financial framework for the implementation of the programme for the period specified in Article 1 is EUR 1 203 million.

1. The indicative financial framework for the implementation of the present programme for the 7-year period beginning on 1 January 2007 is EUR 1 203 million.

Justification

The financial reference amount is indicative until the financial perspectives have been finally adopted. Once this decision has been taken, the Commission will have to present a legislative proposal in order to determine the reference amount, taking account of the corresponding ceiling of the financial framework (see the amendment to the legislative resolution).

Amendment 7

Article 5, paragraph 2 a (new)

 

2a. The overall administrative expenditure of the programme including internal and management expenditure for the Executive Agency referred to in Article 3, paragraph 1a, should be proportionate to the tasks provided for in the programme concerned and is subject to the decision of the budgetary and legislative authorities.

Amendment 8

Article 7, paragraph 1, introductory part

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

 

1. The measures necessary for the implementation of this Decision relating to the following shall be adopted in accordance with the management procedure referred to in Article 6(3):

 

Justification

Amendment 9

Article 9 a (new)

 

Article 9a

Protection of the Community’s financial interests

1. The Commission shall ensure that , when actions financed under the present Regulation are implemented, the provisions of the Financial Regulation are complied with and the financial interests of the Community are protected by the application of preventive measures against fraud, corruption and any other illegal activities, by effective checks and by the recovery of amounts unduly paid and, if irregularities are detected, by effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties, in accordance with Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2988/95 of 18 December 1995 on the protection of the European Communities financial interests, Council Regulation (Euratom, EC) No 2185/96 of 11 November 1996 concerning on-the-spot checks and inspections carried out by the Commission in order to protect the European Communities’ financial interests against fraud and other irregularities,2 and Regulation (EC) No 1073/1999 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 May 1999 concerning investigations conducted by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF)3.

 

2. For the Community actions financed under the present Decision, the concept of irregularity referred to in Article 1, paragraph 2, of Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2988/95 shall mean any infringement of a provision of Community law or any breach of a contractual obligation resulting from an act or omission by an economic operator, which has, or could have, the effect of prejudicing the general budget of the Communities or budgets managed by them, by an unjustified item of expenditure.

3. The Commission shall ensure that the best possible cost-effectiveness is achieved in the financing of Community measures under the present decision.

__________________

1 OJ L 312, 23.12.1995, p. 1.

2 OJ L 292, 15.11.1996, p. 2.

3 OJ L 136, 31.5.1999, p. 1.

Justification

The Financial regulation constitutes the main legal text on the protection of financial interests.

Amendment 10

Article 10, paragraph 3

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.

3.        The Commission shall ensure that the programme is evaluated three years after its start, two years before its end 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.

Justification

It is important that in the event of the programme’s being extended a recent evaluation should be available.

Amendment 11

Annex 1, point 1.1 a (new)

 

1.1a Information to consumers on the dangers to their health and safety of counterfeit products.

Justification

Consumers must have better information on the dangers to their health and safety of certain counterfeit products, such as medicines, cosmetics, toys, spare automobile parts, etc.

Amendment 12

Annex 3, Objective IV, Action 18

Financial contributions to the functioning of Community consumer organisations.

Financial contributions to the functioning of Community consumer organisations, more specifically in the new Member States.

Justification

Consumer organisations in the new Member States desperately need funding to enable them to develop their capacity, since most of them were formed very recently and receive no government funding.

PROCEDURE

Title

Proposal for a European Parliament and Council decision establishing a Programme of Community action in the field of Health and Consumer protection (2007-2013) - Consumer aspects

References

COM(2005)0115 – C6‑0225/2005 – 2005/0042B(COD)

Committee responsible

IMCO

Committee(s) asked for opinion(s)
  Date announced in plenary

BUDG
7.7.2005

Enhanced cooperation
  Date announced in plenary

No

Draftswoman
  Date appointed

Brigitte Douay

4.7.2005

Previous draftswoman

 

 

Discussed in committee

25.1.2006

 

 

 

 

Date adopted

25.1.2006

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

Unanimous

Members present for the final vote

Herbert Bösch, Simon Busuttil, Paulo Casaca, Brigitte Douay, Bárbara Dührkop Dührkop, Markus Ferber, Neena Gill, Louis Grech, Catherine Guy-Quint, Jutta D. Haug, Anne E. Jensen, Wiesław Stefan Kuc, Janusz Lewandowski, Vladimír Maňka, Mario Mauro, Giovanni Pittella, Wojciech Roszkowski, Anders Samuelsen, Nina Škottová, László Surján, Helga Trüpel, Yannick Vaugrenard, Kyösti Tapio Virrankoski, Ralf Walter, Marilisa Xenogiannakopoulou

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg, Paul Rübig, Margarita Starkevičiūtė

Substitutes under Rule 178(2) present for the final vote

 

Observations (information available in only one language)

...

(1)

COM(2005)0115, page 3, point 2.1.

(2)

Not yet published in OJ.


OPINION of the Committee on Legal Affairs (1.2.2006)

for the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection

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))

Draftsman: Aloyzas Sakalas

SHORT JUSTIFICATION

The Commission's proposal brings together both public health and consumer protection policies under one programme framework. In response to the main committees' (Internal Market and Environment) request, the Conference of Presidents decided on 30 June 2005 to split the proposal. The Committee on Legal Affairs wishes to express its support for this decision, because of the risk that public health policy would override the policy of consumer protection. Moreover, the economies of scale are not made out by the extended impact assessment prepared by the European Commission. The Committee has nevertheless concentrated on those parts of the proposal that fall within its competence, as defined by the Rules of Procedure. Accordingly, this opinion is addressed to the Internal Market Committee, which is responsible for the consumer protection part of the proposal.

The proposal establishes a seven-year programme as the successor to the current programme, based on Decision 20/2004/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a general framework for financing Community actions in support of consumer policy for the years 2004-2007. The Committee on Legal Affairs considers it appropriate that the duration of the programme should correspond to that of the Financial Perspective of the Union, finally adopted during the December 2005 European Council. The extension of the consumer protection objectives is also welcome. However, the Committee would like to propose some amendments in order to contribute to the improvement of the European consumer protection policy.

The decision establishing the current programme was taken on the basis of Article 153 of the Treaty and the same legal basis is proposed now. The Committee on Legal Affairs takes the view that the legal basis for this proposal is properly chosen. The principle of subsidiarity is respected, since the Decision establishing a Programme is the most appropriate instrument to achieve the objectives pursued, establishing a framework for supporting the actions of the Member States.

The extended impact assessment of the strategy and programme states in point 2.2 that there are challenges that "only action on EU level can tackle" and that national action should be complemented by Community measures. For this purpose the Commission also plans to extend the scope of action of the public health programme executive agency, in order to establish a European Consumer Institute to implement the actions for consumer protection. The Committee on Legal Affairs supports the idea, but suggests that an analysis should be carried out prior to this proposal. It proposes that the European agency for consumer protection should be a separate body from the Health Agency, although they could have a common infrastructure and share facilities and resources.

The proposed programme seems to provide added value on top of the existing measures in consumer protection field, bearing in mind that new Member States joined the EU in 2004, and that in some of these countries the traditions of consumer protection and consumer involvement in policy-making is significantly less long-standing. Another issue, relevant to the whole Union, is that consumers still do not take full advantage of the Internal Market because of lack of confidence, insufficient reference to consumer interests in framing other European policies and the weak self-organisation of consumers. Moreover, the presently available financial and human resources do not allow the Commission systematically and consistently to collect data about various consumer protection aspects and develop a knowledge base for the development of consumer protection at EU level.

AMENDMENTS

The Committee on Legal Affairs calls on the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following amendments in its report:

Text proposed by the Commission(1)

 

Amendments by Parliament

AMENDMENTS to proposal 1

Amendment 1

Recital 3

(3) Whilst maintaining the core elements and specificities of actions on health and consumer protection, a single integrated programme should help to maximise synergies in objectives and efficiency in administration of actions in these areas. Combining health and consumer protection activities in a single programme should help to meet joint objectives on protecting citizens from risks and threats, increasing the ability for citizens to have the knowledge and opportunity to make decisions in their interests and supporting mainstreaming of health and consumer objectives in all Community policies and activities. Combining administrative structures and systems should enable more efficient implementation of the programme and help to make best use of available Community resources for health and consumer protection.

(3) Whilst maintaining the core elements and specificities of actions on health and consumer protection, a single integrated programme should help to maximise synergies in objectives and efficiency in administration of actions in these areas. Combining health and consumer protection activities in a single programme should help to meet joint objectives on increasing citizens' confidence in the internal market, protecting citizens from risks and threats, increasing the ability for citizens to have the knowledge and opportunity to make decisions in their interests and supporting mainstreaming of health and consumer objectives in all Community policies and activities. Combining administrative structures and systems should enable more efficient implementation of the programme and help to make best use of available Community resources for health and consumer protection.

Justification

The objectives of the policy implemented in the fields of health and consumer affairs should be to improve EU citizens' quality of life from their health point of view, and to increase safety and confidence in internal market products.

Amendment 2

Recital 14 a (new)

(14a) The Commission should prepare a proposal for the setting-up of an agency to carry out the tasks of the envisaged Consumer Institute as an agency separate from the Executive Agency for the Public Health Programme but using shared infrastructure and facilities.

Justification

There is a need for the Commission to be supported in the management of the consumer protection actions, as well as a body that would be capable of undertaking all the data analysis relevant for the consumer protection objectives. With regard to the split of the original proposal into two parts, a 'Consumer Institute' (proper name to be chosen at the moment of establishment) should not form part of the Public Health Agency, but it could be reasonable that both of them share resources for the reason of economy.

Amendment 3

Recital 14 b (new)

(14b) The Commission's Directorate General on Health and Consumer Protection should undertake to work closely with other Directorates General in the Commission from the earliest possible stage where their work has a bearing on consumer protection. This is regarded as particularly important in the case of the Directorate General for Justice, Freedom and Security as regards its work in the field of civil law (private international law, mediation, alternative dispute resolution, legal aid) and in the case of the Directorate General for Internal Market and Services.

Justification

Many of the legislative proposals prepared by the DG for Justice, Freedom and Security are relevant to consumer protection. The European Commission should be obliged to undertake the adequate internal consultations. This amendment responds to the need to integrate consumer-protection policy with other Community policies.

Amendment 4

Article 2, paragraph 1

1. The programme shall complement and support the policies of the Member States and shall contribute to protecting the health, safety and economic interests of citizens.

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

Justification

The improvement of European citizens' health is the ultimate objective of all the activities carried out in the field of health in the context of the Treaty and its modernisation through research is essential.

Amendment 5

Article 2, paragraph 2, point (c), second indent

– better consumer protection regulation;

– better consumer protection regulation; in particular better integration of consumer-protection policy into other Community policies, especially in the field of civil law;

Justification

The need to ensure consistency with other Community policies should be brought as a specific objective of the programme.

Amendment 6

Article 3 a (new)

Article 3a

Beneficiaries

1. The financial contributions for joint actions 6 and 16 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 by the Commission.

2. The financial contributions for action 17 may be awarded to European consumer organisations which:

(a) are non-governmental, non-profit-making and independent of industry, commercial and business or other conflicting interests, and have as their primary objective and activities the representation of consumer interests in the standardisation process at Community level, and

(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 of consumers, in accordance with national rules or practice, and are active at national level.

3. The financial contributions for action 18 may be awarded to European consumer organisations which:

(a) are non-governmental, non-profit-making and independent of industry, commercial and business or other conflicting interests, and have as their primary objective and activities the promotion and protection of the health, safety and economic interests of consumers in the Community, and

(b) have been mandated to represent the interests of consumers at Community level by national consumer organisations in at least half the Member States, are representative of consumers , in accordance with national rules or practice, 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.

Justification

The conditions to be fulfilled by the organisations financed in the framework of the programme should remain the same as specified in Article 7 of the existing Decision 20/2004/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, establishing a general framework for financing Community actions in support of consumer policy for the years 2004-2007.

Amendment 7

Article 9

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.

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, especially with regard to product safety and dealing with rogue traders.

Justification

Enhancing the ability of citizens to take better decisions in their interests in the field of health, and as consumers, and developing synergies between the various Member States' services are essential to the process of framing a Community policy for the health and protection of European citizens.

Amendment 8

Annex 3, Objective I, 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.

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 into other Community policies, including, surveys of consumer and business attitudes, in particular the way in which differing legal regimes and the lack of effective cross-border redress mechanisms affect consumer behaviour in the internal market, 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.

Justification

There is a large body of evidence that suggests that differing legal regimes have a dissuading effect on consumer exercising their right to cross border purchases.

Amendment 9

Annex 3, Objective II, Action 4, point 4.4.

Legal and technical expertise for policy development on the economic interests of consumers

Legal and technical expertise for policy development on the economic interests of consumers, to include continued consideration of a model for a European class action

Amendment 10

Annex 3, Objective III, Action 6

Financial contributions for specific joint surveillance and enforcement actions to improve administrative and enforcement cooperation on Community consumer protection legislation, including the General Product Safety Directive, and other actions in the context of administrative cooperation.

Financial contributions for specific joint surveillance and enforcement actions to improve administrative and enforcement cooperation on Community consumer protection legislation, including the General Product Safety Directive, and other actions in the context of administrative cooperation, subject to the conditions set out in Article 3a(1).

Justification

Amendment necessary as a consequence of Amendment 3.

Amendment 11

Annex 3, Objective IV, Action 16

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 appropriate dispute resolution (the European Consumer Centres Network)

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 appropriate dispute resolution (the European Consumer Centres Network), subject to the conditions set out in Article 3a(1).

Justification

Amendment necessary as a consequence of Amendment 3.

Amendment 12

Annex 3, Objective IV, Action 16

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 appropriate dispute resolution (the European Consumer Centres Network.)

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.

Justification

The scope of this action should be as broad as possible and clearly cover the existing mechanisms that are available to the citizen, including the SOLVIT system. Particular attention for new or acceding Member States is necessary to support their less well-developed consumer organisations.

Amendment 13

Annex 3, Objective IV, Action 17

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

Financial contributions to the functioning of Community consumer organisations representing consumer interests in the development of standards for products and services at Community level, subject to the conditions set out in Article 3a(2).

Justification

Amendment necessary as a consequence of Amendment 3.

Amendment 14

Annex 3, Objective IV, Action 18

Financial contributions to the functioning of Community consumer organisations.

Financial contributions to the functioning of Community consumer organisations, subject to the conditions set out in Article 3a(3).

Justification

Amendment necessary as a consequence of Amendment 3.

PROCEDURE

Title

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

References

COM(2005)0115 – C6 0225/2005 – 2005/0042B(COD)

Committee responsible

IMCO

Opinion by
  Date announced in plenary

JURI
13.10.2005

Enhanced cooperation – date announced in plenary

No

Draftsman
  Date appointed

Aloyzas Sakalas
15.9.2005

Previous drafts(wo)man

 

Discussed in committee

28.11.2005

 

 

 

 

Date adopted

31.1.2006

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

18

0

0

Members present for the final vote

Maria Berger, Bert Doorn, Giuseppe Gargani, Kurt Lechner, Klaus-Heiner Lehne, Katalin Lévai, Marcin Libicki, Hans-Peter Mayer, Aloyzas Sakalas, Francesco Enrico Speroni, Rainer Wieland, Nicola Zingaretti, Jaroslav Zvěřina, Tadeusz Zwiefka

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Alexander Nuno Alvaro, Nicole Fontaine, Jean-Paul Gauzès, Roland Gewalt, Eva Lichtenberger, Manuel Medina Ortega, Michel Rocard

Substitute(s) under Rule 178(2) present for the final vote

 

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PROCEDURE

Title

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

References

COM(2005)0115 – C6‑0225/2005 – 2005/0042B(COD)

Date submitted to Parliament

6.7.2005

Committee responsible
  Date announced in plenary

IMCO
7.7.2005

Committee(s) asked for opinion(s)
  Date announced in plenary

BUDG
7.7.2005

JURI
13.10.2005

ENVI

7.7.2005

 

 

Not delivering opinion(s)
  Date of decision

ENVI

14.9.2005

 

 

 

 

Enhanced cooperation
  Date announced in plenary

No

 

 

 

 

Rapporteur(s)
  Date appointed

Marianne Thyssen
4.7.2005

 

Previous rapporteur(s)

 

 

Simplified procedure – date of decision

 

Legal basis disputed
  Date of JURI opinion

 

/

JURI
31.1.2006

Financial endowment amended
  Date of BUDG opinion

 

/

BUDG
2.2.2006

European Economic and Social Committee consulted – date of decision in plenary

 

Committee of the Regions consulted – date of decision in plenary

 

Discussed in committee

12.7.2005

14.9.2005

23.11.2005

25.1.2006

21.2.2006

Date adopted

21.2.2006

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

30

0

0

Members present for the final vote

Godfrey Bloom, Charlotte Cederschiöld, Mia De Vits, Janelly Fourtou, Evelyne Gebhardt, Małgorzata Handzlik, Malcolm Harbour, Anna Hedh, Alexander Lambsdorff, Kurt Lechner, Lasse Lehtinen, Arlene McCarthy, Toine Manders, Manuel Medina Ortega, Béatrice Patrie, Zita Pleštinská, Zuzana Roithová, Luisa Fernanda Rudi Ubeda, Heide Rühle, Leopold Józef Rutowicz, Andreas Schwab, József Szájer, Marianne Thyssen, Jacques Toubon, Bernadette Vergnaud, Barbara Weiler

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Simon Coveney, Cecilia Malmström, Joseph Muscat, Alexander Stubb, Gary Titley, Anja Weisgerber

Substitute(s) under Rule 178(2) present for the final vote

 

Date tabled

23.2.2006

Comments (available in one language only)

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