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European Commission publishes New Deal for Consumers; Strengthens ecommerce consumer rights

Thursday 12 April 2018 | 09:51 AM CET

The European Commission has proposed a New Deal for Consumers to strengthen European consumers’ rights under Union law.

While the EU already has some of the strongest rules on consumer protection in the world, recent cases like the Dieselgate scandal, have shown that it is difficult to enforce them fully in practice. The New Deal for Consumers will empower qualified entities to launch representative actions on behalf of consumers and introduce stronger sanctioning powers for Member States' consumer authorities. It will also extend consumers' protection for online shopping and clarify that dual quality practices misleading consumers are prohibited.

The New Deal for Consumers will strengthen consumer rights online by: 

  • Ensuring more transparency when making a purchase from an online marketplace so that the consumer knows whether is buying a product from a trader or individual person. 

  • Ensuring more transparency for search results on online platforms –When searching online, consumers will be clearly informed when a search result is being paid for by a trader. Moreover, online marketplaces will have to inform the consumers about the main parameters determining the ranking of the results. 

Another important issue that the New Deal for Consumers tackles is that of dual quality for consumer products.  Following up on the Commission's guidelines from September 2017, the New Deal for Consumers will update the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive in order to make explicit that national authorities can assess and address misleading commercial practices involving the marketing of products as being identical in several EU countries, if their composition or characteristics are significantly different.

Ecommerce Europe comments

Ecommerce Europe overall welcomes the publication of the European Commission’s package “A New Deal for Consumers”. The European ecommerce association agrees with the Commission on the fact that EU Consumer Law needed some targeted adjustments and welcomes some amendments that are likely to foster online sales in the European Union. Nevertheless, Ecommerce Europe questions other adjustments that may ultimately harm businesses. 

“The New Deal for Consumers has the potential to adapt EU Consumer Law, which is in general still fit for purpose, to the benefit of both online merchants and consumers”, declared Marlene ten Ham, Secretary General of Ecommerce Europe. “On the one hand, we are very pleased to see that the Commission proposes to modify momentary rules, such as the right of withdrawal, which led to disproportionate burdens for traders in the past years. On the other hand, we believe that the Commission’s approach, for instance on fines, could be detrimental for online merchants. We will now further analyze the implications of the package for our sector, and soon publish a detailed position paper on the Commission’s proposals”, added Marlene ten Ham. 

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