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MEPs vote to boost online consumer protection 15/11/2017 MEPs have approved EU-wide rules to better protect consumers against scams and detect and stop rogue traders more swiftly.

MEPs vote to boost online consumer protection

MEPs have approved EU-wide rules to better protect consumers against scams and detect and stop rogue traders more swiftly. The revised Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) Regulation will give national enforcement authorities more powers to detect and halt online breaches of consumer protection laws and to better coordinate their actions across the EU.

The new rules aim to close legal loopholes, which are exacerbated because consumer protection systems differ from one EU country to the next.

The changes to investigation and enforcement powers cover, among others:

  • requesting information from domain registrars and banks to identify rogue traders,
  • purchasing goods or services as test purchases, including under a cover identity (“mystery shopping”),
  • ordering the explicit display of a warning to consumers, or ordering a hosting service provider to remove, disable or restrict access to an online interface (e.g. website or app) if there are no other effective means to stop an illegal practice,
  • imposing penalties, such as fines or periodic penalty payments,
  • seeking to obtain commitments from the trader to offer adequate remedies to the affected consumers, and informing them of how to seek compensation.

With regard to dealing with breaches of consumer protection laws, the changes should ensure that the EU Commission coordinates actions in cases where an infringement does or is likely to do harm to the collective interests of consumers in at least two-thirds of the member states, accounting, together, for at least two-thirds of the EU population.

In addition, consumer organisations will be more involved, playing a proactive role by flagging suspected infringements, since they might know about them earlier than the authorities (“external alerts”).

“The new rules will strengthen and improve cooperation between all consumer protection actors, so that they can more easily monitor compliance and address cross-border infringements,” said Olga Sehnalov√° (S&D, CZ), rapporteur. “National authorities, the Commission and consumer organisations, all acting together, will create an effective mechanism to combat rogue traders both online and offline and enforce consumers’ rights in the Single Market."

The text of the Regulation has still to be formally adopted by the Council of the EU. It will apply 24 months after the date of its entry into force.

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