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New EU rules to boost consumer protection enter into force

The New Deal for Consumers was adopted in April 2018 and aims to strengthen the enforcement of EU consumer law. Credit: pxfuel.

The European Commission launched on Tuesday a new set of rules intended to boost the protection of consumers within the European Union, a statement confirms.

These new rules, which aim to improve the enforcement and modernisation of current EU consumer rules protection rules, are part of the New Deal for Consumers.

The deal was adopted by the European Commission on 11 April 2018 and aims to strengthen the enforcement of EU consumer law in the face of the increased risk of EU-wide infringements and to modernise EU consumer protection rules in the wake of market and digital developments.

The new rules, which together make up the Directive, include, but are not limited to; greater transparency of online marketplaces meaning that consumers will know whether the person selling the goods or services online is a trader or private individual, clearer provision of information on “free services” such as social media, regarding the main function of the service, as well as other details.

In addition, consumers must be informed each time a price presented to them online is based on an algorithm taking into account their personal consumer behaviour in order for consumers to be aware of the risk of an increased asking price.

The rules also allow for the prohibition of fake reviews or endorsements of services, the prohibition of re-selling tickets bought using bots and the prohibition of advertising fake reduction prices.

Moreover, the new Directive means that there will be improved compensation for victims of unfair commercial practices, more effective penalties for cross-border infringements, particularly with the view of tackling “mass harm situations” whereby large numbers of consumers across the EU are affected, the lending of stronger powers to national authorities allowing them, for example, to tackle the dissemination and sale of ‘dual quality’ goods.

Member states will also be granted more power to withdraw goods in the interest of better protecting their consumers in the context of doorstep selling and commercial excursions.

“The new rules will increase protection for consumers in the digital world, which they rightly deserve,” said Vice-President for Values and Transparency Věra Jourová.

“The EU is also saying no to products sold as identical in other Member States, when this is clearly not the case. But these new rules won’t protect consumers from rogue traders and online tricksters unless they are strictly implemented on the ground. I strongly encourage all Member States to ensure that the new rules are implemented without delay,” Jourová added.

Member states will have two years to transpose the new rules into their national legislation.

Breaking EU consumer rules on a large scale can cost a company a fine of at least 4% of their annual turnover.

Evie McCullough
The Brussels Times