Sustainable is the buzzword of the moment – regardless of whether we talk about food, clothing or investments. However, how can consumers be sure that a financial product is sustainable and that it “does exactly what it says on the tin”? To provide better guidance, the Austrian Chamber of Labour did not only commission a study to examine sustainable financial products but has also used mystery shoppers assessing the quality of advice regarding sustainable monetary investments provided by 16 financial institutions.
The goal of this study by AK is to describe the status quo with sustainable financial products. In this context, the following aspects are analyzed:
- Legal framework, laws
- Factors on the supply side (banks, investment companies, rating agencies)
- Factors on the demand side (consumers)
The Vienna Chamber of Labour (AK Wien) conducted a practical test to find out whether the legally prescribed product information sheets (“European Standard Consumer Credit Information”) were in fact used or handed out to consumers at meetings with customer advisors on consumer loans.
Credit insurance is a reasonable provision a person can make to protect surviving family members from debt. However, many of the supplemental tariffs should be carefully considered before signing a contract containing them. AK has examined the tariffs for credit insurance policies offered by six banks in Vienna.
In order to make food supply in Europe more sustainable and to provide consumers with better choices, the EU Commission has launched consultations on improved food labelling in Europe. AK participated in these, demanding, among other, the obligatory introduction of Nutri-Scores and nutrient profiles.
On 23 April 2022, EU Parliament and Council reached a provisional political agreement on the Digital Services Act (DSA). Together with the Digital Markets Act, the DSA is to set standards for a safe and more open digital space for users as well as equal competitive conditions for enterprises.
The EU Commission's proposed Data Act aims to make data generated by internet-connected devices available to many stakeholders. However, the explosive nature of the project becomes apparent as soon as the rules are applied not only to visionary areas such as autonomous driving cars or smart homes.
This open letter of the Austrian Chamber of Labour (AK) is asking the Members of the European Parliament for a high level of consumer protection, that is particularly important to us for all products and services that are based on algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) and that consumers come into contact with. We are notably committed to ensuring that they are given the best protection against the erosion of their basic rights and freedoms, lack of transparency, discrimination, and other risks of damage caused by such analysis software.
Sustainable product design has a key role to play if the targets of the Green Deal are to be fulfilled. On 30 March 2022, the EU Commission presented a new package, which not only improves product standards, but shall also provide consumers with sound information, enabling them to make environmentally friendly purchase decisions and to avoid greenwashing.