Enhancing consumer rights and protection in the green and digital transition, priorities for the presidency of the Council of the EU

News - 2023.9.18

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The Secretary General for Consumer Affairs and Gambling of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Rafael Escudero, presented the priorities of the Spanish presidency of the Council of the EU in relation to consumer affairs in 2023 to the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee of the European Parliament (IMCO) on Monday.

Among them, Escudero highlighted the increase in the rights and protection of consumers, especially the most vulnerable, in the context of the green and digital transition. "The European Union is not only called upon to be a major player in providing joint solutions and commitments, but also needs to rethink its own broad policy lines and ambitions for the future," he argued.

To this end, the Secretary General for Consumer Affairs and Gambling explained, it is a "priority" to transform everyday habits that have an economic, social and environmental impact, to empower consumers so that they play an active role in their consumer relations, and to move towards more sustainable models.

In this sense, and in accordance with the New Consumer Agenda 2020-2025, Spain will reinforce the protection of the most vulnerable people (understanding vulnerability in a broad sense and including circumstances such as age or cognitive abilities), as well as their active role in the transformation of the production and consumption system. For example, by promoting product repairability and combating premature obsolescence.

In addition, under the mandate of the Spanish presidency of the Council of the EU, the One Health approach will be strengthened to move towards more sustainable and healthy consumption patterns and work will be done to adapt consumer regulations to the digital transformation.

"Ensuring that European consumer legislation adapts to the new challenges posed by both the digital world and the fourth industrial revolution will be a particularly important element during the Spanish presidency to ensure consumer protection at all times," Escudero stressed.

In accordance with these strategic axes, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs will promote various legislative dossiers during the Spanish presidency of the Council of the EU. The first of these, on empowering consumers in the green transition for better information and protection against unfair practices, on which negotiations with the European Parliament are expected to be concluded soon.

The aim is to enable consumers to make informed purchasing decisions based on reliable information and thus contribute to more sustainable consumption. The EU directive also aims to provide savings opportunities for consumers through greater participation in the circular economy and to combat unfair commercial practices.

For this reason, better information on the durability and repairability of consumer goods will be provided and the marketing of more durable products with better guarantees will be encouraged, among other measures.

During the Spanish presidency of the Council of the EU, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs will also push for progress on the directive on common rules on guaranteeing "the right to redress" with the aim of reaching a mandate from the Council and starting negotiations in the Parliament. The aim of this regulation is to provide incentives and tools to extend the lifetime of consumer goods and increase demand for more sustainable business models.

In addition, in order to promote a greener and more circular economy in which consumers are the protagonists, Spain will present a proposal to protect them from greenwashing. "We want consumers to be able to accelerate the green transition by making purchasing decisions based on environmentally sound claims and labels," said the Secretary General for Consumer Affairs and Gambling.

Finally, Escudero explained that the directive on the safety of toys will be revised to provide the highest possible level of protection before they are placed on the EU market (mainly with regard to the risks posed by harmful chemical substances) and negotiations will continue on the regulation that seeks to provide a common system for compensating European consumers for possible damage caused by defective products.

Non official translation