New EU strategy for consumer protection

In order to ensure that the Single Market delivers benefits for its citizens, the Commission adopted in November the New Consumer Agenda for the period 2020-2025, which sets a vision for EU consumer policy and tries to address consumers’ needs in the context of COVID-19. The Agenda covers five key areas: the green transition, the digital transition, redress and enforcement of consumer rights, specific needs of certain consumer groups, and international cooperation. Prior to drafting the Agenda, the Commission launched an open public consultation on the issue, to which EBI contributed with feedback from the recreational boating industry.

Various issues in the Agenda are relevant to the boating industry. Firstly, the Agenda points out the problems faced by consumers when requesting full refunds of pre-payments from transport companies and tour operators in the context of the pandemic. While the Commission has tried to ensure consumers’ rights, it now calls for a deeper analysis of the regulatory framework for package travel, given the need to ensure consumer protection. By 2022, the Commission will have analysed whether the Package Travel Directive is still adequate.

Secondly, the Commission aims to create better and more reliable information on the sustainability of goods and services (including aspects such as goods’ durability and reparability, as well as the reliability and comparability of that information). That is why in 2021 it plans to present a legislative proposal to empower consumers for the green transition (ensuring better information on products’ sustainability and protection against practices like early obsolescence), as well as a legislative proposal to ensure that companies’ green claims are substantiated. Then in 2022, the Commission will review the Sales of Goods Directive in order to encourage repair and more circular products.

Furthermore, the Commission believes that the proposals spelled out in the Agenda can only succeed within a framework of enhanced cooperation between all relevant stakeholders. This should include not only EU institutions and national authorities, but also industry actors, consumer organisations and academics. The Commission plans on establishing a new Consumer Policy Advisory Group, to discuss progress in the Consumer Agenda with all stakeholders.

These are just a few of the action points planned by the Commission in its New Consumer Agenda. The full document can be found here.

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