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EU toughens consumer protection for the digital world

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EU toughens consumer protection for the digital world

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(BRUSSELS) - New EU rules for consumer protection entered into force on Tuesday, with the aim of toughening up and modernising current EU consumer protection rules, in line with digital developments.

The European Commission welcomed the new rules, which outlaw products sold as identical in other EU Member States when they are not.

However, it warned that EU Member States needed to ensure that the new rules are swiftly implemented, if they are to "protect consumers from rogue traders and online tricksters".

The EU was sending "a strong warning to traders that they should play by the rules, not bend them," said the Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders: "Breaking EU consumer rules on large scale may cost a company a big fine of at least 4% of annual turnover. This will be a sufficiently dissuasive and effective penalty to prevent dishonest traders from cheating."

The new rules will ensure, among others, greater transparency of online marketplaces: it will become clearer whether products are sold by a trader or a private individual, and the submission of fake reviews or endorsements will be prohibited.

In addition, sellers will not be able to advertise fake price reductions, and price comparison sites will need to inform consumers about the ranking criteria.

The new rules will also enforce consumer rights: by ensuring compensation for victims of unfair commercial practices and imposing penalties in case of "mass harm situations" affecting consumers across the EU.

Member States now have two years to transpose the Directive into their national legislation to ensure that EU consumers enjoy stronger protection measures.

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