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Relevant Articles of the EC Treaty

 

  • Article 153
  • Article 95 (former Article 100a), introduced by the Treaty of Maastricht, allows the EC to adopt measures aimed at harmonisation of laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States which have as their object the establishment and functioning of the internal market. It is used as legal basis of consumer law measures (Article 153 of the EC Treaty expressly refers to Article 95 as legal basis). 
  • Article 251 - establishes the Legislative procedure to be followed under Article 95 - co-decision (see our Glossay for the explanation) (and the consultation with the European Economic and Social Committee is also required). 

 

Legislation

 Crucial pieces of legislation in this area are:

  • Mediation Directive (2008/52/EC) (establishing minimum requirements for mediation proceedings and for mediators),
  • Injunctions Directive (98/27/EC) (establishing the right for a qualified body - normally a consumer representative body - from one Member State to take an injunctive action against a trader in another Member State), SEE Latest - Commission's Report on the Application of the Injunctions Directive: Link), SEE also the link to our case law section for the analysis of the case of Duchesne SA - the first case applying the Directive (UK OFT brought the case in Belgium).
  • Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (2005/29/EC) (establishing a general prohibition of unfair commercial practices, and black lists of practices which are always prohibited),
  • Consumer Cooperation Regulation 2006/2004 (establishing a network of national authorities responsible for consumer law enforcement) - see also National Enforcement Network. See BELOW - CONSUMER LAW ENFORCEMENT PACKAGE includes a REPORT ON THE APPLICATION OF THE REGULATION
  • Small Claims Procedure Regulation 861/2007 - establishing a European Small Claims Procedure, which is to be available for cross-border disputes in civil and commercial matters as an alternative to procedures existing under national laws. The Procedure applies to cases where the value of the claim does not exceed 2000 Euro at the time when the claim form is received by the court or tribunal. See also the link to our section on judicial cooperation in civil and commercial matters.
  • Here is the link to the DG SANCO website for further relevant legislation.

 

Drafts and policy papers:

LATEST: CONSUMER LAW ENFORCEMENT PACKAGE - JULY 2009

Draft Consumer Rights Directive (2008)

The Draft has been presented by the Commission on 8 October 2008. It is at present debated in Parliament (an inter-committee session took place on 2 April 2009).

The Draft Directive is the result of efforts to simplify the consumer law acquis (Review of Consumer Acquis). It combines four Directives, which are measures of minimum harmonisation (allowing Member States to introduce or maintain stricter rules for the benefit of consumers). The Review of the Acquis found that the Member States indeed used the opportunity and indeed introduced such stricter rules. As a result, the picture of consumer law across the EU remains far from harmonised. DG SANCO conducted consultations with stakeholders and Impact Assessment which demonstrated that these differences create significant market barriers for businesses and consumers (deterring traders from offering products and services cross-border, especially to smaller Member States, and increasing the costs of doing business which are often passed on to consumers, and the uneven level of consumer protection undermines consumer confidence in the internal market). So the idea is to combine four previously separate minimum harmonisation Directives into one maximum harmonisation Directive.  

The four Directives which the Draft combines are: Council Directive 85/577/EEC of 20 December 1985 to protect the consumer in respect of contracts negotiated away from business premises, Council Directive 93/13/EEC of 5 April 1993 on unfair terms in consumer contracts, Directive 97/7/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 1997 on the protection of consumers in respect of distance contracts, and Directive 1999/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 May 1999 on certain aspects of the sale of consumer goods and associated guarantees. 

See also Collective Redress for initiatives in this area.