Fabian Demicoli

Parliament misses the target on Consumer Rights Directive

 GRTU is disappointed at the outcome of the Parliament committee vote on 1st February on the Consumer Rights Directive. The Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee has missed an opportunity to remove the obstacles which hinder the internal market for businesses and consumers. The original Commission proposal was intended to provide more confidence in the internal market.

However, as amended in IMCO, it will increase legal fragmentation, creating more market barriers and extra compliance costs, and so undermining business activities across Europe and especially e-business.

GRTU has consistently supported full harmonisation of those consumer rights which are essential to ensuring higher consumer confidence in the internal market. The Commission aimed to achieve this by establishing a more harmonised legal framework for consumer contracts while ensuring a high common level of consumer protection.  However, in a large number of areas, this proved complex and impossible.

The Council, being unable to agree on full targeted harmonisation, took a general approach and deleted two controversial chapters: although the resulting package was not perfect, it at least provided clarity.

The Parliament committee vote, however, by adopting minimum harmonised provisions gives Member States the option to create different levels of consumer protection legislation across Europe. In our view this is entirely the wrong approach: better to leave the status quo in place than to impose confusion.

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