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Consumer Affairs Sector Conference discusses consequences from Brexit for consumers and users

Thursday 24 October 2019

"As political leaders and consumer protection policy managers, we have a duty to respond to the new challenges that users find themselves facing", said the Spanish minister, and one of the most pressing challenges is Brexit.

The meeting tackled the potential impact by the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the EU for consumer affairs authorities and the consequences for the interests of consumers and users.

The Spanish minister reported that, while awaiting more details about the precise circumstances surrounding the withdrawal by the United Kingdom, the fact is that it will become a third country in terms of assessing and overseeing the products and services it makes available to members of the EU as soon as its final departure occurs.

María Luisa Carcedo told the consumer affairs representatives from the regional governments that her ministerial department has created a space on its website offering information to the public about the issues that require Brexit-related measures, including those tied to consumer affairs.

Using a Q and A format, the ministerial department provides information about the changes that will result from the United Kingdom's departure for the interests of consumers and users. These topics include matters relating to the purchase of goods from companies based in the United Kingdom, the contracting of services or the purchase of package holidays, for example.

Strategic Framework for Consumer Protection

The Ministry of Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Well-being proposed drawing up a Strategic Framework for Consumer Protection 2020-2024 to the consumer affairs officials from the regional governments. The last such plan was approved for the period 2006-2009.

"Following a long period without a strategic framework for consumer protection, the guidance that can be obtained from such a framework is essential right now", explained the Spanish minister.

The increased digitalisation of the economy, the emergence of new marketing methods and the transformation of environmental and social concerns into market values "will require some radical changes in the ways we manage a policy aimed at protecting consumers".

IDental

The Consumer Affairs Sector Conference was also told about various actions that the ministerial department has taken through the Directorate-General for Consumer Affairs regarding the situation of those affected by the closure of IDental clinics.

The first of these actions was to ensure coordination and cooperation with the regional consumer affairs authorities.

Second of all, support has been given to judicial proceedings and a dossier has been passed to the Chief Public Prosecutor containing complaints, dentistry reports on affected patients and expert evidence on certain victims.

Furthermore, amendments are being made to Spanish Royal Decree 1907/1996, of 2 August, on the advertising and commercial promotion of products, activities and services intended for healthcare purposes.

The agreements reached by the members of the Consumer Affairs Cooperation Commission since 2012 were also ratified at the Consumer Affairs Sector Conference on Thursday.

Among other things, the national market inspection and control campaigns for the period 2012-2020 were ratified. In this time, they have increased by 54% on previous periods.

A total of 246 market oversight campaigns were carried out nationwide in this period: 97 on food products; 84 on industrial products; and 65 on services.

Furthermore, the Consumer Affairs Sector Conference ratified the terms and conditions for the Consumópolis competition, which this year is being organised for the 15th time.

Consumópolis seeks to raise awareness in young people about the importance of their decisions as consumers and, in general, foster reflexive, healthy and critical consumption by students that respects the natural and social environment.

The Consumer Affairs Sector Conference was formally set up on 12 January 1987 in order to guarantee the necessary coherence, coordination and collaboration between the Central Government of Spain and the regional governments in consumer affair-related matters.

Various regional governments had requested this Consumer Affairs Sector Conference to be held. It had been seven years since the previous conference took place.

Non official translation