HomeInsightsCouncil of European Union adopts Regulation to strengthen cooperation between EU national authorities responsible for enforcement of consumer protection laws

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The Council says that the new Regulation aims at modernising cooperation mechanisms to further reduce the harm caused to consumers by cross-border infringements to EU consumer law.

The new Regulation replaces the Consumer Protection Cooperation Regulation (2006/2004/EC) and covers 26 pieces of European consumer protection legislation. Following a review on the effectiveness of the current Regulation, it was concluded that the current Regulation no longer effectively addresses the challenges of the digital single market. The new Regulation gives more powers to national authorities, as part of the development of the digital single market.

In cases of EU-wide breaches of consumer rights, national enforcement authorities and the Commission will coordinate their actions to put a stop to them, in particular where they concern widespread infringements with an EU dimension that are likely to harm consumers across a large part of the EU.

The Council says that ineffective enforcement in cases of cross-border infringements, in particular in the digital environment, enables traders to evade enforcement by relocating within the EU, giving rise to a distortion of competition for law-abiding traders operating either domestically or cross-border, and thereby directly harming consumers and undermining consumer confidence in the single market.

An increased level of harmonisation setting effective and efficient enforcement cooperation among public enforcement authorities is therefore necessary to detect, investigate and stop widespread infringements with an EU dimension, the Council says.

To ensure consistent practice across the EU, the new Regulation sets out a number of minimum investigation and enforcement powers that every national competent authority will have to have in order to coordinate effectively in the fight against infringements. These powers strike a balance between the interests which are protected as fundamental rights such as a high level of consumer protection, the freedom to conduct business and the freedom of information.

The mutual assistance mechanism between administrations will be strengthened to help establish whether any intra-EU infringement has occurred and put a stop to it.

An improved alert mechanism will allow a competent authority to notify the Commission and other competent authorities without delay of any reasonable suspicion that an infringement is taking place on its territory that may affect consumers’ interests in other Member States.

Authorities will also be able to open investigations on their own initiative if they become aware of such infringements by means other than individual consumer complaints. To read the Council’s press release in full and for a link to the text of the new Regulation, click here.

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