A conference on consumer protection dedicated to the most up-to-date innovations related to the future development of European consumer policy was held in Sofia today under the title 'Consumer Law and Consumer Protection Policy Today. Can we do better?'. The event was attended by Věra Jourová i, Commissioner for Justice, Consumer Protection and Gender Equality, Emil Karanikolov, Minister of Economy, Dimitar Margaritov, Chairman of the Commission for Consumer Protection, representatives of the scientific community and leading experts in the field of consumer protection.
The participants in the conference discussed the proposed legislative package called the 'New Consumer Deal'. Topics such as the need for transparency of online markets, enhancing and simplifying information requirements in consumer protection legislation, and providing for proportionate effective and dissuasive financial sanctions for breaches of legislation were discussed. The new Directive on the Protection of Consumer Collective Interests was also addressed.
The Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU i announced that it will prioritise the negotiations on the new rules for consumer protection.
"It is a privilege for us as Presidency to start the negotiations on these important issues and I have to emphasise our firm support for the established goals of the legislative package,"
the Minister for Economy Emil Karanikolov said. He added that a fair balance between consumer protection and the interests of traders should be ensured, while at the same time strengthening trust and legal certainty for economic operators and encouraging the development of cross-border e-commerce.
“The Bulgarian Presidency will prioritise work on the legislative package 'New Consumer Deal'. I am convinced that the Commission's legislative initiative represents a good opportunity to improve the environment in the European Union for both consumers and businesses, as well as law enforcement",
Mr Karanikolov said. In his words, consumers need to feel confident that they can shop freely, regardless of the place, the method and the means within the diverse internal market, but also to be informed of their rights and to be aware of the remedies available to them. The Minister of Economy also stressed the need to facilitate consumers' access to justice and compensation without undue encumbrances.
"The proposal for a new directive on consumer protection claims will help improve consumers' level of protection in the European Union,"
The Chairman of the Bulgarian Commission for Consumer Protection, Dimitar Margaritov, pointed out that the sanctions for unfair commercial practices could reach 4 % of the annual turnover of the trader, which will enable the control authorities to provide more effective consumer protection.
"We have repeatedly commented on the need to standardise the approach when calculating the amount of sanctions in the direction that they represent a percentage of the trader's annual turnover. It matters whether the same violation is committed by the vendor in the neighbourhood shop or by a large retail chain or by an operator selling on the world market and trading with millions and billions of consumers”,
said Mr Margaritov.
On 11 April 2018, the European Commission published two legislative proposals, which resulted from an inspection of the suitability of consumer legislation: A Directive aimed at improving law enforcement and modernising consumer protection legislation and a Directive on representative actions for the protection of the collective interests of consumers. The initiatives will protect the rights of EU consumers as part of the ‘New Deal for Consumers’.
The new rules will protect more than 1.61 billion consumers on the digital market. Sales on that market presently amount to $ 1.9 trillion, with projections to increase to $ 4.6 trillion by 2020. The new rules will also increase customers' confidence in this manner of trading.
A New Deal for Consumers - Press release by the European Commission (11 April 2018) http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-18-3041_en.htm