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New consumer agenda

03-02-2021

Consumer expenditure accounted for 52.6 % of European Union gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019. Meanwhile, in the same year, one in five consumers said they had had at least one reason to complain about a purchase the previous year – a number largely unchanged for a decade. Increasingly, consumers do their shopping online. One in six people bought at least one item online in 2019. Yet while online shopping is now ubiquitous, European rules have lagged behind. On 13 November 2020, the European Commission ...

Consumer expenditure accounted for 52.6 % of European Union gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019. Meanwhile, in the same year, one in five consumers said they had had at least one reason to complain about a purchase the previous year – a number largely unchanged for a decade. Increasingly, consumers do their shopping online. One in six people bought at least one item online in 2019. Yet while online shopping is now ubiquitous, European rules have lagged behind. On 13 November 2020, the European Commission published a new consumer agenda – its strategy for consumer policy for the 2020-2025 period. The strategy aims to address five long-term priorities: the green transition, digital transformation, redress and the enforcement of consumer rights, the specific needs of certain consumer groups, and international cooperation. In addition, it proposes measures to address immediate challenges that have emerged during the pandemic. Over the next five-year period, the Commission plans to empower consumers for the green transition: giving them information on the sustainability of products; establishing a right to repair; and laying down rules regarding green claims. It plans to tackle problematic practices on online marketplaces, fix the gaps in rules on product safety, especially for products sold online, and improve enforcement of existing rules. At the same time, it plans to improve protection of vulnerable groups, especially people who do not have access to the internet, and children. It plans to revise the rules for retail banking and improve financial advice services in Member States. Although the European Parliament has not adopted a resolution on the consumer agenda per se, it has adopted several legislative and non-legislative resolutions on topics covered by the agenda, including the sustainable single market, product safety, the future digital services act and artificial intelligence. Various stakeholders have expressed their views on the new consumer agenda, both during the public consultation before it was published, and following its publication.

Reducing food waste in the European Union

01-12-2020

According to a 2019 report by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), we know surprisingly little about how much food is lost or wasted, where along the food supply chain this happens, and why. Producing food that is not eaten – whether because it is lost in the field or wasted on a plate – not only diminishes the quantity of food available, but is also a waste of economic and environmental resources, FAO states. Around 88 million tonnes of food waste are generated annually in ...

According to a 2019 report by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), we know surprisingly little about how much food is lost or wasted, where along the food supply chain this happens, and why. Producing food that is not eaten – whether because it is lost in the field or wasted on a plate – not only diminishes the quantity of food available, but is also a waste of economic and environmental resources, FAO states. Around 88 million tonnes of food waste are generated annually in the EU alone, with associated costs estimated at €143 billion. To address this issue, an EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste was established in 2016. The forum brings together key players seeking to provide help to all those involved in: defining measures to prevent food waste, including at EU level; sharing best practices; and evaluating progress made over time. The European Parliament has consistently backed the reduction of food waste. In its resolution of January 2020 on the European Green Deal, the EP calls for an enforceable EU-wide food waste reduction target of 50 % by 2030, based on a common methodology for measuring food waste. Member States are expected to have started collecting data on food waste in 2020 and to report on national food waste levels by mid-2022. As part of the European Green Deal action plan, the European Commission presented in May 2020 a 'Farm to Fork strategy' aimed at making food systems more sustainable. One of the targets included in the strategy is 'stepping up the fight against food waste', that is, cutting food waste by half with the help of legally binding EU-wide targets by 2023. In this context, the Commission also aims to revise EU rules on date marking in order to take account of consumer research indicating that the meaning of date marking on food products is often misinterpreted or misunderstood.

Webinar proceedings: An EU legal framework to halt and reverse deforestation

27-11-2020

On Thursday, 10 September 2020, the Policy Department for Economic, Scientific and Quality of Life Policies organised at the request of the ENVI committee a remote webinar on "An EU legal framework to halt and reverse deforestation". This briefing summarises the presentations delivered by the invited experts.

On Thursday, 10 September 2020, the Policy Department for Economic, Scientific and Quality of Life Policies organised at the request of the ENVI committee a remote webinar on "An EU legal framework to halt and reverse deforestation". This briefing summarises the presentations delivered by the invited experts.

Towards a more sustainable single market for business and consumers

19-11-2020

Achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, in line with the European Green Deal, will require the EU to overhaul its production and consumption patterns. During the November II plenary session, the European Parliament is expected to vote on an own-initiative report that recommends a possible way forward by making products more durable and easier to repair and recycle, and by providing consumers with more rights and information, so as to nudge them towards more sustainable choices.

Achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, in line with the European Green Deal, will require the EU to overhaul its production and consumption patterns. During the November II plenary session, the European Parliament is expected to vote on an own-initiative report that recommends a possible way forward by making products more durable and easier to repair and recycle, and by providing consumers with more rights and information, so as to nudge them towards more sustainable choices.

Prospectuses for investors – Simplifying equity-raising during the pandemic

18-11-2020

A prospectus is a legally required document presenting information about a company and the securities that it offers to the public or seeks to admit to trading on a regulated market. The relevant EU legislation consists of a directive, adopted in 2003, amended in 2010, and finally replaced by a regulation in 2017. Drawing up a prospectus entails time and costs, which in the current economic context may deter issuers in distress from seeking to raise new funds, in particular equity. To remedy this ...

A prospectus is a legally required document presenting information about a company and the securities that it offers to the public or seeks to admit to trading on a regulated market. The relevant EU legislation consists of a directive, adopted in 2003, amended in 2010, and finally replaced by a regulation in 2017. Drawing up a prospectus entails time and costs, which in the current economic context may deter issuers in distress from seeking to raise new funds, in particular equity. To remedy this, the Commission proposed to amend Regulation (EU) 2017/1129. These amendments aim at creating a temporary (18 month) regime for a short-form prospectus and to simplify the procedure for issuers (so that they can rapidly raise capital), as well as to release pressure on financial intermediaries. The Council published its negotiating mandate on 16 October 2020. The European Parliament's Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) 'is expected to vote on adoption of its report on 19 November 2020. First edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Sustainable consumption: Helping consumers make eco-friendly choices

21-10-2020

Household consumption in the EU has major environmental impacts, which in a number of cases exceed planetary boundaries. Two thirds of consumers in the EU realise that their consumption habits have negative effects on the environment, and the solution that they mention most often is to change consumption habits and production patterns. However, a number of studies have shown a gap between consumers' good intentions and their actual behaviour. This happens because sustainability is not the only thing ...

Household consumption in the EU has major environmental impacts, which in a number of cases exceed planetary boundaries. Two thirds of consumers in the EU realise that their consumption habits have negative effects on the environment, and the solution that they mention most often is to change consumption habits and production patterns. However, a number of studies have shown a gap between consumers' good intentions and their actual behaviour. This happens because sustainability is not the only thing consumers consider when choosing what to buy; they are also influenced by price, availability and convenience, habits, values, social norms and peer pressure, emotional appeal, and the feeling of making a difference. Consumers also use their consumption patterns to communicate who they are to themselves and to others. Studies on the impacts of consumption show that these are influenced mainly by people's income. The European Union has a number of policies that are relevant for consumers' sustainable choices. These include environmental product requirements, information and labelling requirements, rules on product guarantees, climate legislation that attempts to build the price of CO2 emissions into production expenses, and waste legislation that makes it easier to recycle. The European Commission now plans to add a legislative initiative to empower consumers for the green transition. The European Parliament has long been a supporter of making consumption in the EU more sustainable, and has recently called for measures to ensure that consumers are provided with transparent, comparable and harmonised product information, especially when it comes to the durability and reparability of products and their environmental footprint.

Nutrition labelling schemes used in Member States

27-07-2020

The controversial issue of ‘front-of-pack nutrition labelling’ (FOP labelling) has been high on the agenda of those following European food labelling issues for many years. With half of adults in the European Union being overweight and with many health problems related to unhealthy diets, making the healthy choice the easy choice for consumers has been advocated as one of the means that could help to solve problems. Front-of-pack nutrition labelling is simplified nutrition information provided on ...

The controversial issue of ‘front-of-pack nutrition labelling’ (FOP labelling) has been high on the agenda of those following European food labelling issues for many years. With half of adults in the European Union being overweight and with many health problems related to unhealthy diets, making the healthy choice the easy choice for consumers has been advocated as one of the means that could help to solve problems. Front-of-pack nutrition labelling is simplified nutrition information provided on the front of food packaging, aiming to help consumers with their food choices. Under the current EU rules, the indication of nutrition information on the front of packaging is not mandatory but could be provided on a voluntary basis. Some Member States have already introduced voluntary schemes to help consumers to identify healthier products. The Commission announces in its new ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy, launched in May 2020, that it will propose a mandatory harmonised front-of‑pack nutrition labelling system by the end of 2022. Consumer and health associations broadly consider that FOP nutrition labelling plays a key role in helping consumers make more informed, healthier food choices. There is, however, also criticism of such schemes, arguing that they are over-simplified and can mislead consumers. In its resolution on the European Green Deal, adopted in January 2020, the European Parliament welcomes the plan for a sustainable food system strategy, as well as the Commission’s intention to explore new ways to give consumers better information, and calls on the Commission to consider improved food labelling.

Marketing of and trade in fishery and aquaculture products in the EU

14-07-2020

The European Union is the world's largest market for fishery and aquaculture products, with a total value of extra-EU imports and exports reaching €26.6 billion in 2018. The consumption of fish in the EU exceeded 24 kg per capita in 2017, with the highest consumption levels in Portugal and Spain. In terms of production, the EU-27, excluding the United Kingdom, ranks sixth globally. This includes catches taken by EU vessels on the high seas and in the waters of third countries. The EU's self sufficiency ...

The European Union is the world's largest market for fishery and aquaculture products, with a total value of extra-EU imports and exports reaching €26.6 billion in 2018. The consumption of fish in the EU exceeded 24 kg per capita in 2017, with the highest consumption levels in Portugal and Spain. In terms of production, the EU-27, excluding the United Kingdom, ranks sixth globally. This includes catches taken by EU vessels on the high seas and in the waters of third countries. The EU's self sufficiency ratio of 43 % in fishery and aquaculture products is rather low. As a result, internal demand is primarily met through imports. To ensure the supply of fish to the EU fish-processing industry, import duties are removed or reduced for a number of fishery products up to a specific annual import volume. In addition, products can enter the EU market, at zero or a reduced rate of duty, from countries with which the EU has a free trade agreement in force, or from developing countries that can export to the EU under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP). In addition to tariffs, fish imports are subject to EU food hygiene regulations, which set out sanitary and phytosanitary requirements, and the EU's common fisheries policy (CFP). The CFP requirements include EU marketing standards − covering freshness and size categories − and specific labelling requirements that go beyond those required for other food products, for example the obligation to indicate the catch area and the main fishing gear used. Other market areas regulated by the EU cover the support and organisation of professional bodies and exemptions to competition rules. On the one hand, most market intervention mechanisms, such as withdrawal schemes and reference prices, have been removed since the most recent reform of the CFP in 2013. On the other hand, the EU fishing industry now has greater responsibility in the management of supply and demand. The submission of yearly production and marketing plans has become an obligation for all recognised producer organisations.

New EU rules on labelling of tyres

26-06-2020

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

On 17 May 2018, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a new regulation on the labelling of tyres for the purposes of fuel efficiency, safety, and noise reduction. This would replace the 2009 Tyre Labelling Regulation (TLR), while maintaining and reinforcing most of its key provisions. The new regulation seeks to increase consumer awareness of the tyre label, and improve market surveillance and enforcement of TLR provisions across the EU Member States. Suppliers would be obliged to display the tyre label in all forms of purchase, including where the tyre is not physically shown in the store and where it is sold online or on a long-distance basis. Whereas the tyre label is currently applicable to passenger and light-duty vehicles, in future it would also apply to heavy-duty vehicles. The new label would include visual information on tyre performance in snow or ice conditions, and could be adjusted by means of delegated acts to include information on mileage, abrasion or re-studded tyres. Tyre labels would be included in the new European Product Database for Energy Labelling before any sale on the EU market. On 13 November 2019, successful trilogue negotiations resulted in a provisional agreement on the content of the new regulation. The legal text was finalised and the new TLR was formally adopted by the Council and Parliament in 2020 and published in the Official Journal of the EU on 5 June 2020. Its provisions become applicable from 1 May 2021.

Sustainable Consumption and Consumer Protection Legislation

16-03-2020

This paper analyses the contribution, or lack of contribution of, the current EU Consumer Protection Legislation to a sustainable consumption and a longer lifetime of products. In addition, it gives an overview of the most relevant best practices at national and international level and provides recommendations on the future development and possible reforms of European consumer protection legislation in order to contribute to a more sustainable consumption and a longer lifetime of products. This ...

This paper analyses the contribution, or lack of contribution of, the current EU Consumer Protection Legislation to a sustainable consumption and a longer lifetime of products. In addition, it gives an overview of the most relevant best practices at national and international level and provides recommendations on the future development and possible reforms of European consumer protection legislation in order to contribute to a more sustainable consumption and a longer lifetime of products. This document was commissioned by Policy Department A at the request of the European Parliament’s Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO).

Údar seachtarach

Bert KEIRSBILCK, KU Leuven ; Evelyne TERRYN, KU Leuven ; Anaïs MICHEL, KU Leuven and Ivano ALOGNA, BIICL

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