EU consumer law undergoing Fitness Check

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As outlined in its communication on its New Consumer Agenda published in 2020, the European Commission is committed to assessing the relevance of EU consumer legislation to protect consumers online. This recently resulted in the launching of a Fitness Check of EU consumer law focussing on digital fairness. Ecommerce Europe provides a snapshot of the ongoing EU initiatives that are likely to impact the EU framework for consumer rights.  

As we described in a previous article, the Commission has taken initial steps to adapt the interpretation of the key Directives through updated guidance documents (or Notices) on the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD), the Consumer Rights Directive (CRD), the Unfair Contract Terms Directive (UCTD) and the Price Indication Directive (PID), following the adoption of the so-called “Omnibus Directive”. 

On 30 March, the Commission attempted to bring the EU consumer acquis closer to its sustainability goals by presenting its proposal for a Directive on Empowering consumers in the Green Transition. To spur consumers’ environmental awareness and ban “greenwashing and planned obsolescence”, the initiative lays down new unfair commercial practices, such as misleading or vague environmental claims, which are likely to be prohibited. Information requirements on a product’s durability and reparability are also due be strengthened. 

The discussions on “dark patterns”, targeted advertising and other data practices, deemed to affect consumer rights, are still shaping the negotiations on major pending digital files, such as the Digital Markets Act (DMA) and the Digital Services Act (DSA) but also the Artificial Intelligence Act (AIA) and the Data Act.  

These discussions will also impact the future of consumer protection law in the EU as the Commission kickstarts its Fitness Check of EU consumer law on digital fairness (the ‘Fitness Check’) in order to determine whether the existing key horizontal consumer law instruments remain adequate for ensuring a high level of consumer protection in the digital environment. 

The Fitness Check will focus on the the following Directives: UCPD, UCTD and CRD. 

The Fitness Check will cover the “most pressing consumer concerns in the digital environment, such as, but not limited to, dark patterns, consumer vulnerabilities, influencer marketing, personalisation practices, contract cancellations, subscription service contracts, addictive use of digital products, marketing of virtual items, and unfair consumer contract terms.” It aims to take into account other relevant EU legislation mentioned above. 

The Fitness Check is foreseen to be completed in the first half of 2024 and, depending on the outcome, may be followed by a legislative proposal. 

Ecommerce Europe is closely following the Fitness Check and will provide its contribution on behalf of the European digital commerce industry. If you want to learn more about our activities, please reach out to info@ecommerce-europe.eu.  

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