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 Full text 
Tuesday, 16 April 2019 - Strasbourg Provisional edition

Better enforcement and modernisation of EU consumer protection rules (debate) (debate)

  Daniel Dalton, Rapporteur. –Mr President, this package reboots consumer rights for the internet age, bringing new protections and empowering consumers with information whenever they buy.

I’d like to thank the shadow rapporteurs, the Romanian Presidency, and the European Commission for their hard work and commitment to achieve an agreement before the European elections. We had just three weeks from start to finish of the negotiations and we focused on a single trilogue. It turned into a very long day, but after ten hours of negotiation we got an agreement. Now as some of you will be aware, this agreement was subject to further adjustment from the Commission, which had made it clear in the talks that it needed to confirm its mandate. The final text addressing dual quality was therefore tweaked, but the crucial substance remains: consumers can no longer be misled by products made to different standards but marketed as the same in different Member States. It’s not right, and the agreement we vote on tomorrow will stop those egregious breaches of consumer trust.

Now I know some colleagues feel that we should have gone further, and I have tabled amendments to that effect for tomorrow. But let me be clear: if any of these amendments pass, this will collapse the entire agreement. The Council and Commission have made it clear that they are already at the edge – they can’t give any more. So if they pass, there will be no deal at all. That means no provision at all on dual quality, and there will be no updated consumer law at all – just a few weeks before an election. This will not help consumers, who are currently being misled. There will be no law coming down the track for them. It will not help consumer authorities. They would not, for example, be able to give out penalties that they need to enforce all the other consumer laws. And it would not help producers, who would continue to be undercut by competitors who flout the rules.

I struggle also to see how it would meet political reality. It would risk delaying efforts to tackle dual quality for years, if not for ever. But with the agreement we have found, there is a beginning. Dual-quality products now for the first time are addressed, and in the coming years, the Commission will have to review progress seriously. Those are concrete steps of progress rather than unrealistic amendments. And we should remember that this package is about more than dual quality. There are vital improvements to the consumer protections we cannot, in good conscience, delay.

And the Parliament’s demands have been met in many areas. We have banned bulk-buying of event tickets following an earlier law in the UK. This practice penalises real fans, either unable to see their favourite team or artist or forced to pay touts many times the face-value price. And this will now stop, because it’s been cheating everyone and it’s good news that we are able to ban it here.

We’ve also succeeded in introducing requirements to improve trust in online reviews, marketplace ranking and the pricing of discounts – all to the benefit of the consumer. I also believe that in the internet era we should trust the informed consumer. The online world contains a wealth of information that can empower the consumer, but it needs to be genuine to be useful. Our measures on online consumer trust will make sure that consumers know when they’re getting information that they can rely on, helping them find the product that they are looking for.

I'm glad that we could also get support from the Commission and the Council for a tool to build consumer awareness and use of their rights. The European consumer rights – or, as I like to call it, the ‘ECR app’ – will give consumers a single identifiable point to know their rights and easy access to the complaints procedure that will help them solve their problems.

We also ensured that changes to the right of withdrawal were rejected. This is an important right for consumers and for their trust in e-commerce, and if we can adopt this agreement tomorrow, it will be just over a year from the adoption of the proposal by the Commission to the conclusion of our work.

So I would like to thank the shadows again, who all helped to ensure the compromise, also the IMCO Secretariat and the Legal Services for their hard work and dedication. These rules will make a real difference to consumers’ everyday life. They matter.

So let’s not delay their implementation by one more day and let’s adopt the text tomorrow.

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