The Volkswagen scandal showed how vulnerable consumers across Europe are when they are cheated. Because most people don’t go to court individually to take on a multinational company, a good solution is to go to court as a group. But only a handful of EU countries offer a working and relatively efficient system for this. In the big majority of countries, it is either legally impossible to do so, or the system in place does not function properly.
Ursula Pachl, BEUC
Moderator – Dave Keating, Journalist
Geoffroy Didier, MEP, rapporteur for the Representative Actions Proposal
Gabriele Zgubic, Austrian Chamber of Labour
Joanna Lopatowska, EuroCommerce
Els Bruggeman, Test Achats / Test Aankoop
On 10th September 2018, the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) voted on the proposal on a recast of the Drinking Water Directive. The Citizens’ Initiative “Right2Water”, which had been supported by the Chamber of Labour, demands the enshrinement of a human right to clean and affordable drinking water for all Europeans. However, this demand was not as distinctly implemented as it would be necessary from the AK’s point of view. That is why improvements are needed for the plenary vote scheduled for October.
On 30th August 2018, the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (vzbv) hosted a breakfast debate on the so-called “New Deal for Consumers”. At the centre of the discussion were above all the regulation of online platforms and their growing influence as well as the proposed cuts with regard to the right of withdrawal in case of online purchases. How red-hot the topic is, was also demonstrated by this week’s meeting of the European Parliament's Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO).
On Monday, 10th September 2018, the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety will vote on the recast of the Drinking Water Directive. This revision has been triggered by the Citizen’s Initiative “Right2Water” - supported by the Chamber of Labour - , where in 2013 over 1.8 million EU citizens demanded for water to become a human right.
It was the Diesel scandal, which showed how limited the rights of consumers in Europe are when collective law enforcement is at stake. Now, the Commission has reacted and presented the long announced “New Deal for Consumers”. This shall enable collective redress throughout Europe in the first place and become a more effective measure. This is a first step in the right direction to strengthen the rights of European consumers.
Whether in Copenhagen, Budapest, Danzig or Dubrovnik: most consumers only get to know how much withdrawing cash at a cash dispenser within the EU - but in another currency than the euro - actually costs, a few days later when they look at their bank statement. Based on a proposal to review the regulation as regards charges on cross-border payments, the Commission wants to provide more transparency and lower costs for customers. Bank transfers between Euro countries and Member States that do not have the Euro shall also become cheaper.
In 2016, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) identified that due to the high temperatures when processing vegetable oils two substances occur, which probably have to be rated as carcinogenic and genetically harmful. The highest concentration of these substances are to be found in palm oil, which - different from other vegetable oils - must always be heated to a high temperature, prior to being processed in foodstuff. Because of their eating habits and their lower weight, children are regarded as even more at risk than adults.
In September 2017, the Commission published its proposal on revising the Rail Passenger Rights Regulation, which has been in force since 2007. In doing so, it wants to harmonise the level of protection of passengers within the European Member States, remove uncertainties and provide people with limited mobility with better access to rail journeys.