Today, the Commission is proposing new EU legislation to prevent and combat child sexual abuse online. With 85 million pictures and videos depicting child sexual abuse reported worldwide in 2021 alone, and many more going unreported, child sexual abuse is pervasive. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the issue, with the Internet Watch foundation noting a 64% increase in reports of confirmed child sexual abuse in 2021 compared to the previous year. The current system based on voluntary detection and reporting by companies has proven to be insufficient to adequately protect children and, in any case, will no longer be possible once the interim solution currently in place expires. Up to 95% of all reports of child sexual abuse received in 2020 came from one company, despite clear evidence that the problem does not only exist on one platform. not only exist on one platform.
Today, the Commission is proposing to update the EU consumer rules to empower consumers for the green transition. The updated rules will ensure that consumers can take informed and environment-friendly choices when buying their products. Consumers will have a right to know how long a product is designed to last for and how, if at all, it can be repaired. In addition, the rules will strengthen consumer protection against untrustworthy or false environmental claims, banning ‘greenwashing’ and practices misleading consumers about the durability of a product.
15 March, 2022
World Consumer Rights Day on 15 March: Best sustainable practices from all over Europe
By 2050, Europe aims to become the world’s first climate-neutral continent. The European Green Deal package highlights measures that will improve the well-being and health of citizens and future generations.
The consumer protection sector is also covered in these measures by introducing concrete initiatives which promote longer-lasting products that can be repaired, recycled and reused.
Numerous schemes and campaigns are being introduced by various National organisations promoting a more sustainable consumer environment. Some of these actions also go beyond EU legislation. This World Consumer Rights Day – 15th March 2022, the ECC Net Malta will highlight some of these sustainable best practices from all over the EU together with the Maltese initiatives.
The country is fighting tons of electronic waste with repair vouchers. These vouchers cover half of the repair costs for consumers up to a maximum of 200 €, encouraging citizens to invest money into repairs instead of throwing away broken electronic devices and buying new ones. The programme, which was a success in Vienna since 2020, was extended to the whole country.
In Belgium, you can find second-hand shops called “De Kringwinkel” or “Les Petits Riens” with locations all over the country. Anyone can drop off furniture, kitchen utensils and similar items they no longer need or acquire them at a bargain price.
A multinational clothing company operating in Bulgaria encourages consumers to bring outworn clothes to their stores. Clothes are accepted on-site, and the trader takes care to get these clothes reused or recycled. When handing in their old clothes at the shop, customers receive a voucher to redeem at their next purchase.
The Croatian online platform “Burza otpada” (waste exchange) brings together companies and promotes the exchange of information on the supply and demand of secondary raw materials arising from production processes or resulting from waste management processes. The project, launched in 2017, has an indirect impact on the consumers since it aims to reduce waste disposal and a sustainable approach to primary resources management, improving the living environment for all.
Cyprus promotes incentive sponsorship to purchase a new bicycle apart from subsidising the repair and maintenance of a used bicycle. The country also prohibits the free disposal of plastic bags at points of sale.
“Too Good To Go” is a mobile app developed in Denmark in 2015 to fight food waste. Restaurants or shops post unsold leftover food or meals they would otherwise throw away. Customers can check the app to see what is available in their area and pick up the food at reasonable prices. A win-win situation for consumers, restaurants and the environment simultaneously.
France encourages consumers to choose repair over replacement with a new product for defective products. For example, they are suspending the legal guarantee of conformity while a product is being repaired or granting a six-month extension of the guarantee if a consumer asks a trader to repair the product. France even has a 2-year guarantee renewal if the trader exchanges an appliance instead of repairing it as requested.
With an amendment to the German law on the circular economy, the country wants to stop overproduction, the destruction of new goods and unnecessary returns. Up to now, especially electronic goods and clothing often end up in the trash bin, although they are functioning and like new. Manufacturers and retailers will be held more accountable in the future, and they will have to document how they deal with unsold goods, e.g. if they donate them or resell them at a lower price.
The Italian platform NeXt-Nuova Economia per tutti provides an overview of sustainable best practices across the country. Whether these are carried out by companies, schools, municipalities or start-ups, the tool “Vote for Your Wallet” encourages consumers to take responsibility and make informed, conscious purchase choices.
Several Latvian fuel stations encourage consumers to bring their reusable coffee cups. One of the largest retail chains with hundreds of retailing places also follows this practice. Customers who bring their cups get a 10 to 15 per cent discount on their coffee to reduce the number of waste cups in the country.
Luxembourg is the first country in the world to offer free public transport. Since 2020, both residents and tourists can hop on the train, tram or bus without buying a ticket. The aim is to raise awareness for environmentally friendly mobility.
The Beverage Container Refund Scheme incentivises the return of single-use beverage containers by applying a refundable deposit of €0.10c on the sales of beverages (These include water, carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks, ciders, beers, ready to drink coffee and dilutable in glass, PET or metal bottles and cans). The refund scheme will be implemented in Malta from 1st April 2022. In addition, a network of Reverse Vending Machines shall be available to consumers all over Malta and Gozo for returns of beverage containers.
Water Point is an organisation aiming at helping the environment by reducing plastic bottles waste. Water Point filling stations were installed all over Malta to provide fresh micro filtrated water at an affordable price (15 Euro cent per litre). These vending machines filter the water directly from the main water supply and refrigerate still or sparkling water. Currently, there are nine water dispensing machines strategically placed all over Malta.
The Don’t Waste Waste campaign is an educational and awareness-raising campaign on waste management. The aim is to raise awareness about the importance of waste management to drive a cultural shift in behaviour whereby waste is considered a resource. Businesses implementing good waste management practices will be benefiting from free advertising/promotion of such initiatives as examples of good practice.
WATER – BE THE CHANGE is a national water conservation campaign launched in September 2019 to deliver an effective educational and awareness-raising campaign on optimising and efficient use of water resources. The campaign will run for three years targeting the domestic, commercial, and agricultural sectors. Gift packs are being distributed door-to-door in all localities in Malta and Gozo. The kit includes gadgets and information on reducing the water bills and saving water.
Rotterdam-based “Pieter Pot” is the first package-free, circular online supermarket in the Netherlands. Consumers buy their products in bulk, and the supermarket delivers them in deposit glass jars, while used jars can be returned to the delivery driver to be washed and filled again. Forbes reports that package-free supermarkets could save up to 20 kg of plastic per person per year.
There is a deposit scheme for recyclable bottles and cans in Norway that all Norwegians are familiar with. Recycling machines are stationed at the entrance of all supermarkets, and you get a refund of the deposit you paid when purchasing the bottle or can. Last year more than 92 % of all bottles and cans in Norway were recycled.
An architectural studio from Wrocław has created a project for a mobile hotel made of an isothermal refrigerated truck. They use trailer trucks we usually see on the road, used to transport food. The project involves upcycling, i.e. increasing the value of the material and repurposing cooling trucks into hotel rooms. “Good spot” is the first complex in Poland offering this type of mobile accommodation.
The Portuguese government has launched a programme to fight energy poverty. It subsidises work on houses to make them more energy-efficient. For example, building insulation, sustainable heating or improvements to windows and doors.
In Slovenia, the Reuse Centre, a non-profit organisation, carries out sustainable consumption activities according to the motto: reduce, repair, reuse. For example, they allow consumers to participate in the repair of products and teach them proper maintenance. They also manufacture new products from existing ones (upcycling).
Sweden has reduced its VAT rate of 25% to 12% for repair services for bicycles, shoes, leather goods, clothing, and household linen. Craftsmen can offer discounts of up to 50% on repairs of large electric appliances – the state pays the difference.
ECC Net Malta – firstname.lastname@example.org
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The European Commission today set out guidelines for businesses, governments and citizens to prepare for the end of the transition period, regardless of whether and what kind of deal is agreed between the EU and the U.K.
“Even in case of the most ambitious future partnership … there will be far-reaching and automatic changes and consequences for citizens, consumers, businesses, public administrations, investors, students and researchers, as of 1 January 2021,” the document reads.
It lists changes that will take place in the EU from January 1, 2021 when it comes to customs checks, tariffs and VAT, financial services and recognition of professional qualifications, energy cooperation, travel and tourism, legal contracts, data and intellectual property, and EU agreements with third countries.
The paper, addressed to the European Parliament, the Council of the EU, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, also calls on EU countries to raise awareness of the consequences of Brexit.
It insists that the document “in no way seeks to prejudge the outcome of negotiations, nor to examine the possible implications of a failure to reach an agreement on a future partnership.”
Talks between the EU and the U.K. this week again failed to break the impasse in the negotiations. An EU spokesperson said today that “significant divergences” remain between both sides.
The document states that while “negotiations so far have shown little progress,” the Commission’s objective is “to conclude, by the end of 2020, an ambitious partnership covering all areas agreed with the United Kingdom in the Political Declaration.”