Wednesday, 9 April 2014

European Parliament's last stands

Last week, the European Parliament voted in its plenary session on a few proposals that are important for consumers and their fate needs to be set prior to the end of term of the current Parliament. Let us take a short look at the results of last week's session:

Roaming fees and open access internet

In the first reading on the new Telecoms package, the European Parliament consolidated work conducted so far and is ready to give a further go at it to the new Parliament after the elections (see previously: MEPs say NO to roaming and YES to open internet). The package not only aims at abolishing roaming charges in Europe as of December 2015, but also at prohibiting internet access providers from blocking or slowing down selected services ensuring more net neutrality. (Ensure open access for internet service suppliers and ban roaming fees, say MEPs)

Clinical trials

We have previously mentioned on this blog the need for ascertaining more transparency of clinical trials' data, so that it could be more thoroughly tested and so that its' results could be subjected to more academic, objective scrutiny (see e.g. Who's keeping the score?...). This would increase patients' safety. On 2nd of April the European Parliament voted for a new proposal amending the existing Clinical Trials Directive. Pharma companies and academic researchers will now have to post the results of all their European clinical trials in a publicly-accessible database. The new law is also supposed to facilitate easier cross-border cooperation, which is expected to enable bigger, more reliable trials. The European Commission will be authorized to do the checks of reporting procedures, which themselves are simplified. (Clinical trials: clearer rules, better protection for patients) The proposal has already informally been agreed with by the Council so it should not take long to adopt it as law. This new proposal is welcomed by the European Ombudsman who often had to deal with complaints that citizens were refused access to clinical trials data (Clinical trials vote is a triumph for transparency in EU healthcare).

Medical devices

The MEPs voted in the first reading on the proposal for a new Regulation on medical devices in order to consolidate the existing various projects of that law and pass it on to the new Parliament. (see our previous post: New European rules on medical devices) We discussed the need for this law previously, mentioning the scandals with faulty breast implants, for example. New provisions are to enforce stricter monitoring and certification procedures of medical devices, therefore, increasing consumer safety. (Medical devices: better controls and traceability to ensure patients' safety)

Consumer payments

The European Parliament adopted also last week the proposal to cap bank fees for processing consumers' payments in the EU (at 0.3% of the transaction value for credit card transactions and at a maximum of seven euro for debit cards). (MEPs push for card payment fee caps and online payment safeguards) The caps will apply to both domestic and cross-border transactions and in time should lead to lower prices for card users. They will enter into force one year upon this law's adoption. Moreover, the MEPs decided to strengthen online payment safeguards by, among others, introducing a uniform set of information that would clearly state all charges, execution times, contact information and exchange rates. Unauthorized payment will need to be refunded within 24 hours of their being noticed. Consumers should not bear losses of illegal use of their stolen or lost cards above €50. (see our previous post: Money, money, money...)

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