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Consumer Policy in the EU

Latest news on the consumer policies of the European Union.

Vacuum cleaners
Vacuum cleaners are subject to EU energy labelling and ecodesign requirements. From September 2017, the most efficient vacuum cleaners will carry a label of A+++. These ratings take into account the vacuum cleaners' total power and how efficiently that power is used to pick up dust. With more efficient vacuum cleaners, Europe as a whole can save up to 20 TWh of electricity per year by 2020. This is equivalent to the annual household electricity consumption of Belgium. It also means over 6 million tonnes of CO2 will not be emitted – about the annual emissions of eight medium-sized power plants.

Insurance products in EU set for new disclosure rules
The European Commission laid down new rules Friday for an Insurance Product Information Document (IPID), which will have to accompany all non-life insurance policies in Europe from 2018.

Brussels objects to VISA inter-regional fees
The European Commission sent a supplementary Statement of Objections to Visa Inc. and Visa International Thursday, focusing on inter-regional fees on transactions with consumer debit cards.

EU eyes cheaper non-euro cross-border payments
The EU Commission launched Monday a public consultation on ways to reduce the costs of cross-border payments within the European Union in currencies other than the Euro.

Endocrine disruptors
EU Member States representatives voted on 4 July in favour of the European Commission's proposal on scientific criteria to identify endocrine disruptors in the field of plant protection products. This is seen as an important step towards greater protection of citizens from harmful substances.

EU Parliament calls for longer lifetime for products
Europe's Parliament called on the Commission, Member States and producers Tuesday to take measures to ensure consumers can enjoy durable, high-quality products that can be repaired and upgraded.

Google fined EUR 2.4 bn for breaching EU antitrust rules
The European Commission fined Google EUR 2.42 billion Tuesday for giving an illegal advantage to the U.S. search giant's own comparison shopping service, thus breaching EU antitrust rules.

EU agrees revisions on hazardous substances in electrical equipment
The EU Council and Parliament reached provisional agreement Wednesday on a proposal for a revised directive on the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment.

EU agrees deal to better protect consumers
The EU Council and Parliament reached preliminary agreement Wednesday to strengthen cooperation between EU national authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws.

End of mobile roaming charges in the EU
EU roaming charges no longer apply from 15 June 2017, meaning Europeans who travel within the EU will be able to call, text and connect on their mobile devices at the same price as they pay at home.

MEPs vote in simpler energy efficiency labels
The EU Parliament gave the green light Tuesday for simpler energy efficiency labels for household appliances, enabling customers to choose products reducing energy consumption and their energy bills.

EU agrees plan for cheaper cross-border parcel delivery
The EU Council agreed its stance Friday on a legislative proposal for cheaper parcel deliveries and convenient return options even to and from peripheral regions in the EU.

EU to ratify treaty for better access to books for blind people
The EU Council and European Parliament agreed informally Wednesday legislation to make more books available in formats designed for blind and visually impaired people.

Screening of comparison websites in the travel sector
While it becomes more and more common to book hotels and flights online, consumers are encountering a growing number of problems with online travel services. These services are now among the most frequent consumer complaints according to the European Consumer Centres.

Mobile roaming surcharges in EU to end by summer
The last hurdle on the way to ending retail 'roaming' surcharges, scheduled for 15 June 2017, was cleared Thursday as the European Parliament voted for the abolition of wholesale price caps.

MEPs vote in safer, more traceable medical devices
The European Parliament gave its backing Wednesday to stricter rules on medical devices, to ensure that devices such as breast or hip implants are traceable and comply with EU patient safety requirements.

New EU rules to ensure safety of medical devices
Ranging from simple contact lenses and sticking plasters to sophisticated pacemakers and hip replacements, medical devices and in vitro diagnostic medical devices are important to our health and quality of life. People rely on these devices every day and expect them to be safe and incorporate the latest progress in science and innovation. The current rules on the safety and performance of medical devices in the EU were harmonised in the 1990s. To reflect the substantial technological and scientific progress in this sector over the last 20 years, the European Commission proposed to update the rules to improve the safety of medical devices for EU citizens, create the conditions to modernise the sector and to consolidate its role as a global leader.

Alternative Dispute Resolution - Online Dispute Resolution
When consumers have a problem with a trader regarding a product or service they bought, they can settle their dispute out-of-court through an Alternative Dispute Resolution procedure. Such procedures are an alternative to resolving disputes before a court and are hence called Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). When they are carried out online, they are called Online Dispute Resolution (ODR). Resolving disputes through ADR, in general, is easier, faster and less expensive than resolving disputes before a court. In the European Union, ADR procedures can take different forms and have different names e.g. mediation, conciliation, ombudsmen, arbitration, complaints boards.

24,000 consumers use online dispute platform in 1st year
Over 24,000 complaints were lodged in the first year of the EU's Online Dispute Resolution platform, launched in February 2016 to help consumers and traders resolve their disputes out-of-court.

Consumer financial services action plan
The European Commission presented on 23 March an Action Plan that sets out ways to provide European consumers with greater choice and better access to financial services across the EU.

New push to open up EU financial services market
The EU Commission announced an action plan Thursday to open up Europe's market in financial products such as insurance, pensions, loans, and current or savings accounts to the benefit of consumers.

Clearer, tougher EU energy labels on the way
A new, tougher, A to G scale showing the energy efficiency of household appliances is set to replace current energy labels, following agreement Tuesday by EU Parliament and Council negotiators.

Online platforms partner with EU to remove unsafe products
The Commission is stepping up cooperation with Amazon, Ebay and Alibaba to more actively tackle potentially unsafe products from websites which sell to consumers in the EU, it announced Thursday.

EU set to clamp down on online scams
EU ministers agreed Monday a general approach to strengthen cooperation between national authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws in the digital age.

Comparative advertising must not mislead, rules EU Court
The European Court of Justice on Wednesday ruled against inaccurate and misleading advertising practices which compare prices between shops while using different formats and sizes.