New deal for consumers: S&Ds ensure better protection in the digital world

Today, Socialists and Democrats in the internal market committee backed measures to reinforce existing consumer rights in the European Union and provide better tools to fight unfair commercial practices, unfair contract terms and price indication. 
 
The proposed legislation extends consumer protection to grey areas of the online services, such as contracts concluded via platforms or allegedly free services.

S&D spokesperson on this issue, Evelyne Gebhardt MEP, said:
 
“The EU has some of the strongest rules on consumer protection in the world, but we must make sure that this legislation is up to date and closes loopholes where they’ve become apparent.
 
“Transparency obligations will be strengthened for online marketplaces, such a TripAdvisor or Amazon relating to hidden advertising and paid placement as well as obligations which clarify who the contracting partner is for the consumer. It will also apply to free services. Some companies provide free services in exchange for the users’ data, so these users also deserve to be protected from abusive practices.
 
“We are also determined to ban dual-quality products. All Europeans, regardless of where they live, deserve the same quality of products. Only when there is a clear and demonstrable regional consumer preferences, it will be allowed to alter the content or the ingredients, due to sourcing of local ingredients. But this needs to be visible to the consumer from the packaging of the product.”

S&D spokesperson on the internal market, Nicola Danti MEP, said:
 
“If we want the digital economy to thrive we must make sure that it is a safe and fair environment. This is why our main aim is to modernise existing rules and adapt them to the digital sphere.
 
“The digital landscape is changing very fast, so some of the old obligations will no longer apply, such as the need to provide a trader’s fax number. Furthermore, online market places will be obliged to reveal any hidden advertising and paid placement, and they will have to inform the consumer about who their contracting partner is. These new transparency rules will be applied both to contracts of paid and unpaid services.
 
“One of the main problems nowadays is the lack dissuasive penalties and the poor equipment of EU consumer authorities to sanction practices. The proposal voted on this morning introduces an obligation for national authorities to impose effective and proportionate penalties and criteria on how to calculate the level of a fine for EU widespread infringements. It will be €10 million or at least 4 % of the trader’s annual turnover of the previous financial year.”