Saturday, 29 May 2010

EU consumer rights: Treaty level

If you want the short version of consumer protection aspirations in the EU, you can read the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, where the programme has been boiled down to one short sentence (in the latest consolidated = updated version on the Treaties and the Charter, OJEU 30.3.2010 C 83):


Article 38 Charter
Consumer protection

Union policies shall ensure a high level of consumer protection.



Shared competence

According to Article 4(2)(f) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) consumer protection is generally a shared competence between the EU and member states. OJEU (30.3.2010 C 83).



General application

We find consumer protection under provisions having general, or horizontal application:


Article 12 TFEU
(ex Article 153(2) TEC)

Consumer protection requirements shall be taken into account in defining and implementing other Union policies and activities.



Approximation of laws

Approximation or harmonisation of laws for the establishment and functioning of the internal market concerns, among other areas, a high level consumer protection in Article 114(3) TFEU.



Title XV of Part Three TFEU

The main provision on consumer protection is Article 169 TFEU:


Article 169 TFEU
(ex Article 153 TEC)

1. In order to promote the interests of consumers and to ensure a high level of consumer protection, the Union shall contribute to protecting the health, safety and economic interests of consumers, as well as to promoting their right to information, education and to organise themselves in order to safeguard their interests.

2. The Union shall contribute to the attainment of the objectives referred to in paragraph 1 through:

(a) measures adopted pursuant to Article 114 in the context of the completion of the internal market;

(b) measures which support, supplement and monitor the policy pursued by the Member States.

3. The European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure and after consulting the Economic and Social Committee, shall adopt the measures referred to in paragraph 2(b).

4. Measures adopted pursuant to paragraph 3 shall not prevent any Member State from maintaining or introducing more stringent protective measures. Such measures must be compatible with the Treaties. The Commission shall be notified of them.



After this introduction we can turn to the proposed Directive on consumer rights.




Ralf Grahn