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Parliamentary questions
28 July 2006
Answer given by Mr Kyprianou on behalf of the Commission

As announced in the Commission’s answer to the Honourable Member’s previous Written Question E‑4254/05, the Commission wrote to its Spanish counterpart at the beginning of 2006. In its reply, the Spanish Minister for Health and Consumer Affairs provided a detailed description of the action undertaken by the Spanish authorities.

Subsequent to the decisions taken by the Generalitat de Cataluña against the European City Guide and following the transfer of this company from Barcelona to Valencia, the Directorate-General for Commerce and Consumer Protection (la Dirección General de Comercio y Consumo) of the Generalidad Valenciana obtained several improvements by way of negotiation:

In the new contract model, which apparently has been used since February 2005, the price of the order appears in bold characters and, on the back of the form, there is a reference to the right to cancel the order within seven days.

A so-called ‘Defensor del cliente’ (ombudsman) was created on 1 January 2005. The ‘Defensor del cliente’ is a lawyer whose role is to deal with future complaints within three months. According to the European City Guide’s website, his decisions are binding on the European City Guide.

A code of conduct has been published on the European City Guide’s (ECG) website in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. Amongst other things, it sets out the possibility to rescind the contract on a case-by-case basis after the seven-day period has expired.

In addition, the Valencian authority obtained a commitment by the ECG to examine a number of complaints lodged since 2003.

Having regard to these steps taken by the ECG, the Valencian Dirección General de Comercio y Consumo no longer deals with complaints, referring businesses which have not been able to resolve their dispute with the ECG to the courts.

Regarding the Honourable Member’s question with respect to infringement proceedings, one cannot automatically infer from the continued activities of a company such as the ECG that a Member State is infringing Community law. So far, the Commission has not received any complaints directed against Spain or any other Member State for non-implementation of the respective EC legislation.

On the other hand, the Commission has received in the meantime further complaints about the operation of the ECG from other EU Member States and about other companies with similar conduct. Against this background, and since this is becoming a systematic business-to-business practice, the Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection is exploring any possible alternative future action with the Commissioners for Enterprise and Industry and for the Internal Market and Services.

OJ C 328, 30/12/2006
Last updated: 22 September 2006Legal notice