Within the European single market the protection of health and safety as well as of consumers' economic interests must be guaranteed. The European Union is therefore committed to ensuring a high level of consumer protection in all Member States. Consumer protection is a horizontal task and is implemented within the relevant policy fields.
The key areas for action at present are the improvement of foodstuffs regulations, the improvement of law enforcement relating to cross-border movements of goods and services, the definition of minimum standards of product safety and the review of the acquis communautaire regarding consumer protection regulations.
EU-wide standards also apply in the fields of misleading and comparative advertising, dishonest business practices or the law on package travel, financial services and guarantees.
A further component of European consumer protection policy is the provision of information to the citizens. The European Union therefore sponsors agencies in all Member States to inform consumers about cross-border issues and to advance their interests.
Fostering Trust in Innovation
Consumer protection policy that gives equal weighting to economic interests and those of consumers provides important stimulus in the implementation of the Lisbon Strategy for growth and employment. Measures to foster consumer trust – in cross-border provision of goods and services, in the single financial market and with regard to innovation of all kinds – can help increase demand within the single market. Consumer protection policy is designed to marry the issues of protection and safety, self-responsibility and freedom of choice in such a way as to benefit both consumers and the economy. Germany’s EU Presidency will thus focus on fostering trust in innovation, the ultimate aim being to boost economic growth.
With regard to commercial consumer protection, the German Presidency intends to use the European Union’s consumer policy strategy and its associated Action Programme for 2007-2013 to overcome the challenges faced and to foster consumer trust.
Making Digital Technology Safer
Digital technologies used in communication, the exchange of information, purchasing goods and in bank and insurance transactions find increasing favour with consumers. Nonetheless, growth in these sectors is way behind its true potential. Real progress can only be made if these technologies are made safer and so foster consumers’ trust in using them. The German Presidency thus intends to propose and support initiatives to make these new technologies safer.
The German Presidency will give priority to: