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New European Commission agenda puts building consumer trust at forefront of legislative aims

The European Commission has outlined a new two year 'Consumer Agenda' that it hopes will improve consumer trust in businesses.25 May 2012

The Commission will issue guidelines by 2014 on how the Consumer Rights Directive should be enforced. In addition it outlined the Commission's intention to obtain a "speedy adoption and implementation" of a new Common European Sales Law, updated laws covering data protection and a new framework for alternative and online dispute resolution.

Plans for a harmonisation of copyright laws and the system for paying levies for private copying of copyrighted material will also be worked towards within the EU. A "legislative proposal on collective rights management" will also be tabled later this year.

The Commission will also evaluate how new rules governing consumer credit providers have been implemented and next year new laws protecting air passengers' rights will also be updated.

"Growth in the European Union needs both competitive supply and strong demand. Consumers therefore must be as much centre stage of EU policies as businesses. We need confident consumers to drive forward the European economy", Viviane Reding, the EU's Justice Commissioner, said in a statement. "We want to stimulate cross-border shopping online, and this is why the EU and its Member States need to bring consumer rights into the digital age."

"We have taken first steps with the Consumer Rights Directive and with the proposal for modernised data protection rules to boost consumer confidence online. As a next step, the Commission plans to modernise the EU's package travel rules of 1990 to take into account that more and more people now book their holidays on the web. However, it takes more than new laws to make the digital single market work for consumers. Member States need to step up the swift and non-bureaucratic implementation of EU rules so that consumer rights become a concrete reality for our 500 million consumers," she said.

The Commission said that its Consumer Agenda (16-page / 94KB PDF) was aimed at reinforcing consumer safety, enhancing knowledge, improving enforcement and securing redress and aligning policy with changes in society to make them more relevant to daily life.

"Well designed and implemented consumer policies with a European dimension can enable consumers to make informed choices that reward competition, and support the goal of sustainable and resource-efficient growth, whilst taking account of the needs of all consumers," the new Consumer Agenda said.

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