Fabian Demicoli

Parliament adopts the Consumer Rights Directive

Parliament has stopped short of full-targeted harmonisation of consumer rights: commerce regrets that the chance has been missed to boost cross-border e-commerce. GRTU welcomes most aspects of today's agreement but has concerns that the Consumer Rights Directive does not go far enough. Commerce applauds the rejection of the proposed obligation on traders to deliver anywhere in the EU and to pay all returns above 40 Euros.

 

However, we regret the failure to provide businesses with sufficient incentives to increase their online cross-border activities.

After more than two years of discussion the European Parliament has adopted the Consumer Rights Directive. Many improvements have been made compared to the previous Parliament text and the minimum harmonised chapters have been deleted. However, provisions remain which will allow divergent member state rules and result in legal fragmentation in particular for on-premises contracts.

As the directive now stands, there is a high risk that there will be even less consumer choice and an increase in product prices due to some provisions.

A positive element of the directive is that it sets a common set of rules on information requirements, but the list is too extensive and will severely complicate day to day activities for businesses. The requirement to supply consumers with confirmation of orders placed over the phone on a durable medium will prove impractical in many cases: for example for flowers to be delivered in a few hours. In addition, member states can impose a rule that the consumer is only committed once he has signed the offer or sent written consent, whether by durable medium will depend on the member state. This obligation will create more obstacles not only for traders but also for consumers.

A rule that traders must reimburse consumers before they have received back return goods opens up the doors for fraud. This will be detrimental for businesses – in particular for small businesses. Written confirmation that the consumer has sent back goods is not a guarantee that the trader will in fact recover the same goods or that they will be intact.

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