Consumer Protection in the European Union
The European Union of 28 countries has almost half a billion potential consumers. The Member States have developed measures at national level aimed at safeguarding interests of these consumers. At the same time, as of the 1970s, the EU is progressively harmonising the national measures in order to guarantee EU citizens the same high level of protection throughout the European market.
Direct Selling Europe (DSE) member companies strongly support and fully comply with national and EU legislation on consumer rights. A high level of consumer protection is indeed the best guarantee of a sustainable and ethical direct selling industry.
The European consumer policy is very comprehensive and complex. Below you will find the main policy issues relevant for the direct selling sector as regards consumer protection.
The Directive aims at achieving a real consumer internal market, striking the right balance between a high level of consumer protection and the competitiveness of enterprises. The Directive will apply to contracts concluded after 13 June 2014.
The Directive establishes that the trader will bear the risk for any damage to goods in transport until the consumer takes possession of the goods. Furthermore, the Directive extends the withdrawal period for consumers to 14 calendar days. After the withdrawal the consumer has the right to be reimbursed without undue delay and within 14 days.
The Directive will ensure that consumers can turn to quality alternative dispute resolution entities for all kinds of contractual disputes that they have with traders. ADR entities need to be operational in all EU Member States.
The Directive provides strict rules at EU level applying to misleading and aggressive practices. Furthermore, it introduces safeguards for vulnerable consumers as well as a black list of unfair practices which are banned in all circumstances. More concretely, the Directive forbids pyramid schemes, which are understood as pyramid promotional schemes where compensation is derived primarily from the introduction of other consumers into the scheme rather than from the sale or consumption of products (Please refer to Annex I point 14 of the Directive for exact reference).
Other relevant pieces of legislation:
- Consumer Credit Directive (2008/48/EC)
- Misleading and Comparative Advertising Directive (2006/114/EC)
- Directive on certain aspects of the sale of consumer goods and associated guarantees (1999/44/EC)
- Unfair Contract Terms Directive (93/13/EEC)
EU relevant portals:
- Is it fair? European Commission website on avoiding unfair commercial practices
- Your rights as a consumer in the EU
- Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
- Misleading and comparative advertisement
Other relevant links:
- European Association for the Coordination of Consumer Representation in Standardisation (ANEC)
- European Consumers’ Organisation (BEUC)
- Confederation of Family Organisations in the European Union (COFACE)
- European Community of Consumer Cooperatives (Euro Coop)
- Consumers' associations at national level