Monday, 24 January 2011

And then there were two...

EU Member States formally adopted today the latest draft of the proposal for Consumer Rights Directive (read: European Commission's press release). The legislation still has to be approved by the European Parliament and the vote is now scheduled for March 2011.

The latest draft of the proposal for the CRD aims at harmonization of TWO currently binding directives: Directive 97/7/EC on Distance Selling and Directive 85/577/EC on Doorstep Selling. Unfortunately, in the works on the CRD no consensus was reached on what the desirables provision of the regular consumer sales transactions should be. Also the unfair contract terms regulation was left out of the final draft. Still, the EU authorities are optimstic that the CRD will "give consumers more confidence when they shop online", "will strengthen both the Single Market's functioning and consumer rights", "will make it easier for consumers to shop cross-border, in particular on the Internet", "will make it less costly for traders to offer their products to consumers in other countries", "businesses will benefit from lower costs, a level playing field and more legal certainty".

There are indeed certain much need changes to the doorstep and distance selling that the CRD introduces, taking into account the current consumers' problems with these transactions (e.g. hidden charges, lack of right of withdrawal from online auctions, default pre-ticked boxes). However, despite the high words used by Viviane Reding, the EU's Justice Commissioner, still falls short of its original goal to fully harmonize consumer protection in the most important areas of consumer rights.

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