Consumer Reader: What are the highlights of the new European Union Consumer Agenda - Part 2

In the first part of the current publication, we introduced you to the essence of the document that lays the foundations for new consumer policies in the European Union - the Consumer Agenda for the period 2020-2025. We talked about the main areas in which these policies are focused, and in particular the measures that the European Commission is planning in relation to the new market conditions in times of pandemic. We will now introduce you to the environmental and digital transition of European consumption and the activities planned in connection with it.


Ecological transition

In the light of the growing interest of European consumers in their personal contribution to climate neutrality, conservation of natural resources and biodiversity, as well as the reduction of soil, water and air pollution, the European Commission is seeking measures to unlock this potential and enable all European citizens to play an active role in the Union's environmental transition, independent of their financial situation, without requiring a specific way of life and social discrimination. A number of initiatives are already under way under the Green Deal and the Circular Economy Action Plan, which aim to achieve zero pollution, reduce the carbon footprint, promote healthy and sustainable consumer choices, repair opportunities and conditions, recycling and combating premature obsolescence of products and promoting their longevity. The planned actions are:

  1. In 2021, the Commission will present a legislative proposal to provide more opportunities for consumers in relation to the environmental transition with better information on product sustainability and better protection against certain practices, such as misleading environmental claims and premature obsolescence.
  2. Starting 2021, the Commission will work with stakeholders to promote their voluntary commitments to sustainable consumption measures, in addition to the legal requirements.
  3. From 2022, the Commission will evaluate and review the Sale of Goods Directive to find a way to further support the repair and sustainability of products.

There are a number of initiatives aimed at promoting better preservation of value, prioritizing safer and more durable products and the longest possible preservation of materials in the economic cycle (return, reduction, repair, reuse and recycling).

These are:

  • The Circular Electronics Initiative, which aims to ensure that electronic devices are designed to be durable, easy to maintain, upgradeable, repairable, reusable and recycled.
  • Another initiative is that of a common charger for mobile phones and other portable devices, for the convenience of consumers and to reduce the electrical and electronic materials used and the wasted.
  • With regard to textiles, there is an EU strategy that seeks to enable consumers to choose durable textiles that can be repaired and reused. The same is with the packaging, i.e. the aim is to make them reusable and recyclable in an economical way.

Lack of product information and concerns about the reliability of environmental claims are major obstacles to the choice of sustainable forms of consumption.

The Commission shall endeavor to address access to information on the environmental performance of products, their durability, the possibility of repair and modernization, and the question of the reliability and comparability of such information. Developing digital product passports is one way to achieve these goals.

The digital transition

There is a rapid development of the digital economy, which allows for larger-scale trade, but at the same time there is a need for equal protection of consumer rights in offline and online shopping channels. The emergence of more and more fraud on the Internet, unfair practices and misuse of personal data, manipulation of choice through artificial intelligence (AI) is a problem accompanying digitalization, which is also addressed by the commission.

The planned activities in this area are:

  1. By 2022, after updating its guidelines on the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive and the Consumer Protection Directive, the Commission will analyze whether additional legislative or other action is needed to ensure equal fairness both online and offline.
  2. In 2021, as announced in the White Paper on Artificial Intelligence, the Commission plans to make a proposal to set AI requirements.
  3. In 2021, the Commission will prepare a proposal for a revision of the General Product Safety Directive to address the new safety challenges for products purchased through new technologies and online sales. In addition, in 2021, the Commission intends to prepare a proposal for a revision of the Machinery Directive.
  4. In 2021, the Commission will make proposals on the Consumer Credit Directive and the Financial Services Distance Trading Directive in order to strengthen consumer protection in the context of the digitization of financial services for non-retail clients.

If, as a consumer, you believe that you have purchased a product that does not meet safety requirements or you are a user of a financial service that hides unsuspected conditions, difficult-to-understand clauses or you have been a victim of unfair commercial practices, you can always submit a complain in the ODR platform to try to solve the problem with the EU  trader, either local or cross-border. The negotiations with the company will be aided by a third independent and impartial person, a mediator. We will be glad to help you if you choose NAIS as an ADR body. All this happens entirely online, in the form of a chat, from a convenient place for you and the merchant, at a time convenient for each of the parties.

Do not miss the next publications in the News section of In the section "Consumer Reader" we will tell you about the most interesting conclusions from the research of the European Commission, conducted in 2020, on consumer habits and the way the Covid-19 pandemic has affected European consumers.

In the section "Handbook for Trade Leaders" we will continue the series "ARE CUSTOMER COMPLAINTS A GOOD THING AND HOW MUCH DOES AN UNDERRATED COMPLAINT COST"

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Published on 29.03.2021 Back to news