New consumer programme: more independent and better informed consumer 

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MEPs approved a new EU consumer programme for 2014-2020 on Thursday. It will allow to support the projects which, amongst others, empower vulnerable consumers, strengthen European consumer organisations and promote the development of price comparison websites.

"New consumer programme ensures proper attention to the safety of products as well as promotes the transparency in the markets. In our society, where the wealth of information available can ultimately overwhelm us, we felt it was essential to provide consumers with the means to better compare not only the price, but also the quality of goods and services. In this context, I welcome the principle of encouraging the development of reliable comparison websites", said rapporteur Robert Rochefort (ALDE, FR).

EU's Consumer programme will cover the period of 2014-2020 and will support actions in the fields of product safety, consumer information and education, redress and enforcement. The overall financial envelope for this programme amounts to 189 mln. eur.

Price comparison website

Thanks to MEPs new rules will allow to fund the development of comparison websites, which could facilitate consumers' access to reliable, comparable and easily accessible information on prices and quality of goods or services. This tool could make consumers more independent and better informed by allowing them to compare data, including in cross-border cases. To increase consumers' faith in these websites, funding could also support the development of trustworthiness of such websites.

Vulnerable consumers

MEPs ensured that the new program will have to pay particular attention to vulnerable consumers, like elders or minors, who due to their specific situation are less inclined to fully understand and exercise their rights as consumers. Therefore projects seeking to inform and educate the consumers will have also to take into account the needs of vulnerable consumers.

More support for consumer organisations

Given the importance of boosting consumer confidence in making the internal market work better, MEPs ensured that consumer organisations at Union level should have a possibility to get adequate support from Consumer programme, as they have a major role in providing information and assistance to consumers.

New rules also allow to finance the creation of an online portal for consumer organisations, which would help to promote the exchange of good practice and expertise by freely sharing available training material.

The resolution was adopted with 630 votes in favour, 42 against and 12 abstentions.

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