In its White Paper on Artificial Intelligence (AI) from early 2021, the EU Commission stated the maxim that AI had to be trustworthy. As correct as this diagnosis is, the legal instruments published in April 2021, which the EU Commission relies on in its proposal for a regulation, are weak. Its proposal only inadequately protects affected consumers: only a few high-risk AI applications shall entail obligations. For everything else, voluntary self-regulation should be sufficient.
It is well known that the coronavirus pandemic has hit consumers and companies hard, particularly in the field of travel. As a result of the crisis, known problems in consumer law have become more evident and a lack of clarity, gaps in legal protection and practical difficulties in asserting rights have been highlighted. The Austrian Chamber of Labour therefore calls for improvements and clarifications within the european travel law, namely the Package Travel Directive and the Passenger Rights Regulations for air, rail, ship, coach and bus travel.
With the proposal for a regulation on Artificial Intelligence (AI), the European Commission wants to create a legal framework for the dealing with and using AI systems. Are the proposed regulations sufficient to actually provide adequate protection and transparency and to clarify responsibility issues?
On 10th May 2021, the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment invited experts to a hearing on genome editing. One of the four experts invited was Iris Strutzmann, AK Vienna, to represent the interests of consumers.
A survey by Chamber of Labour Vienna and University of Vienna on the consumer behaviour of the Austrian population shows: consumers want to use their household appliances longer and they want the option to have them repaired rather than having to throw them away.
On 29 April 2021, the European Parliament confirmed the compromise on rail passenger rights, which it negotiated with the Council and the Commission at the end of the year 2020. Hence, the negotiations regarding this Regulation are complete. From the passengers´ perspective, there are only few improvements, but one significant deterioration instead.
Low-income groups are hit especially hard by the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Vulnerable consumers therefore need protection throughout Europe also in the field of financial services. AK calls for protective measures that range from consumer-friendly provisions regarding loans, overdrafts, finance lease contracts and other types of consumer credit to the use and the accessibility of cash.
Within the scope of the Action Plan for Circular Economy the EU Commission plans, among other, to introduce a more sustainable design not only for electronic devices, such as mobile phones and tablets, but also with regard to textiles. In view of both initiatives, the Commission has organised two consultations, in which the Austrian Chamber of Labour is also participating.
With the Digital Service Act (DSA) the European Commission aims to foster innovation and competition, to rebalance responsibilities of users, platforms and public authorities and to better protect consumers and their fundamental rights online.
MEP Günther Sidl, AK EUROPA, the Brussels Office of the Austrian Federal Chamber of Labour and ÖGB Europabüro, the Brussels Office of the Austrian Trade Union Federation would like to cordially invite you to our joint webinar "Informed consumer choices – also regarding genome editing?"