Today, the Council endorsed a provisional agreement on EU-wide rules for the protection of collective interest of consumers recently concluded with the European Parliament. This is a positive and important step towards empowering consumers and creating a level-playing field for collective redress in the EU.
Věra Jourová, Vice-President for Values and Transparency, said: “This directive was our response to cross-border breaches of consumers' rights from dishonest companies. Consumers did not have all the right tools to seek justice - up to now. I am very pleased that these new rules will empower consumers to join forces and level the odds even in disputes with today's Goliaths.”
Didier Reynders, European Commissioner for Justice, said: “Recent scandals involving large multinational companies have shown us why we need to have a clear-cut EU-wide mechanism for consumers to seek redress when their rights have been breached. As Commissioner in charge of Justice, I spent with the co-legislators 9 hours last week in order to reach a political agreement. Today's endorsement by the Coreper is a major success on the path towards improving the enforcement of consumer rights in the EU. Consumers in all Member States will now have an effective tool to collectively enforce their rights. With the safeguards included, it will at the same time prevent the abusive use of the procedure.”
Once formally adopted by the European Parliament, this legislation will make collective redress available across the EU, covering a broad range of areas from financial services to passenger rights, from telecommunications to energy. It will provide for efficient cross-border collective redress actions between Member States. There will also be numerous safeguards to prevent the procedure from being abused. For example, only qualified entities, such as consumer organisations designated by EU Member States, will be able to launch an action. Qualified entities representing consumers will also have strict obligations of transparency regarding the source of their funding, including the funds used to launch a specific collective action. Currently, not all Member States have a collective redress mechanism available, and proceedings can often be lengthy and costly, especially if victims go to court individually. Public authorities are not always in a position to tackle harmful commercial practices effectively in the EU.
Once in place, the new rules agreed today will guarantee a greater protection for consumer rights across the EU.