Consumer Policy Strategy
Food safety, public health and consumer protection issues are covered by a single Directorate-General, under the responsibility of David Byrne, European Commissioner for Helath and Consumer Protection. The aim is to give increased priority to consumer policy, and to ensure a more effective and co-ordinated approach to consumer interests.
This arrangement brings together three closely-related areas of policy. It highlights the fact that the interests of consumers should play a central role in policy development. The strategies for each of the three policy areas have been developed in a co-ordinated way but are expressed in separate documents. This reflects the different priorities, actions and related time scales. EU consumer policy has been expressed in a series of 3-year action plans. The first was in 1990 and the last action plan expired at the end of 2001.
On 7 May 2002, the European Commission adopted a new consumer policy strategy specifying its overall political approach for the five year period, 2002-2006.
It has three key objectives:
“A high common level of consumer protection”.
This means harmonising, by the most appropriate means (e.g. framework directive, standards, best practices), not just the safety of goods and services, but also those economic and legal interests that will enable consumers to shop with confidence anywhere in the EU and by whatever means.
The main initiatives envisaged are addressed in the Green Paper on EU Consumer Protection and on the safety of services.
“Effective enforcement of consumer protection rules”.
There is no good law if it is not properly enforced. In practice, consumers should be given the same protection throughout the EU, and also in an enlarged EU.
The priority actions are the development of an administrative co-operation framework between Member States and of redress mechanisms for consumers.
“Proper involvement of consumer organisations in EU policies”.
For consumer protection policies to be effective, consumers themselves must have an opportunity to contribute to the development of policies that affect them. Consumers and their representatives should have the capacity and resources to promote their interests on a similar footing as other stakeholders.
The main actions consist of a review of mechanisms for consumer organisations to participate actively in EU policy making and to the setting up of education and capacity-building projects.
These three objectives are designed to help achieve integration of consumer concerns into all other EU policies, to maximise the benefits of the single market for consumers and to prepare for EU enlargement.
They will be implemented through actions, which will be subject to periodic review. The objectives will provide a consistent orientation, while the actions can be adapted to social and economic developments. Under each objective, the strategy describes the major actions that the Commission intends to present over the period.
Links to related documents:
Decision No 20/2004/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 December 2003 establishing a general framework for financing Community actions in support of consumer policy for the years 2004 to 2007
Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 26 February 2003 on the Communication from the Commission on Consumer Policy Strategy 2002-2006
Council Resolution of 2 December 2002 on Community Consumer Policy Strategy 2002-2006
Consumer Policy Strategy (2002-2006), 07 May 2002 (216KB)
Commission to adopt new Consumer Policy Strategy , 06 May 2002
Responses to the discussion document “Ideas for a Consumer Policy Strategy”
Discussion Document : Ideas for a Consumer Policy Strategy (+/- 30KB)
"Consumer Protection - Past and future ", Speech by David Byrne, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, to the Belgian Presidency Conference "The consumer’s involvement in the Single Market", Brussels, 04 October 2001
Reference to interim report on Consumer Policy Action Plan, 23 August 2001
Council Resolution of 28 June 1999 on Community consumer policy 1999 to 2001