Commission acts to promote transparency in the short-term rental sector to the benefit of all players

Today, the Commission adopted a proposal for a Regulation to enhance transparency in the field of short-term accommodation rentals and help public authorities ensure their balanced development as part of a sustainable tourism sector.

While short-term accommodation bookings offer benefits for hosts and tourists, they can create concerns for certain local communities struggling, for instance, with a lack of affordable housing. The new rules will improve the collection and sharing of data from hosts and online platforms. This will, in turn, inform effective and proportionate local policies to address the challenges and opportunities related to the short-term rental sector.

The new proposed rules will help to improve transparency on the identification and activity of short-term accommodation hosts, and on the rules they have to comply with, and will facilitate the registration of hosts. They will also tackle the current fragmentation in how online platforms share data and, ultimately, help prevent illegal listings. Overall, this will contribute to a more sustainable tourism ecosystem and support its digital transition.

New requirements for data sharing for short-term rentals

The new proposed framework will:

•  Harmonise registration requirements for hosts and their short-term rental properties when introduced by national authorities: registration schemes will have to be fully on-line and user-friendly.  A similar set of relevant information on the hosts and their properties, namely the “who”, “what” and “where”, should be required. When completing registration, hosts should receive a unique registration number.

•  Clarify rules to ensure registration numbers are displayed and checked: online platforms will have to facilitate hosts to display registration numbers on their platforms. They will also have to randomly check whether hosts register and display the correct numbers. Public authorities will be able to suspend registration numbers and ask platforms to delist non-compliant hosts.

•  Streamline data sharing between online platforms and public authorities: online platforms will have to share data about the number of rented nights and of guests with public authorities, once a month, in an automated way. Lighter reporting possibilities are foreseen for small and micro platforms. Public authorities will be able to receive this data through national ‘single digital entry points’. This will support well-targeted policy making.

•  Allow the reuse of data, in aggregate form: the data generated under this proposal will, in aggregate form, contribute to tourism statistics produced by Eurostat and feed into the upcoming European data space for tourism. This information will support the development of innovative, tourism-related services.

• Establish an effective framework of implementation: Member States will monitor the implementation of this transparency framework and put in place the relevant penalties for non-compliance with the obligations of this Regulation.

Next Steps

The Commission’s proposal will be discussed in view of adoption by the European Parliament and the Council.

After its adoption and entry into force, Member States will have a two-year period to establish the necessary mechanisms for data exchanges.

Background

Short-term rentals are developing fast in the EU, largely boosted by the platform economy. They represent about one quarter of all tourist accommodation in the EU and their number is increasing significantly across the EU. This trend was confirmed during the COVID crisis: the number of short-term rental bookings during the summers of 2020 and 2021 were above the equivalent 2018 levels. In addition, the number of bookings over the first half of 2022, has increased by 138% compared with the same period in 2021. Short-term rentals have become critical for the EU tourism ecosystem, including guests and hosts, and for many communities, creating both opportunities and challenges.

The proposal for a Regulation on data collection and sharing relating to short-term accommodation rental services is a key action of the tourism transition pathway, published in February 2022. The proposal was announced in the Commission’s SME Strategy of March 2020 with a view to promoting the balanced and responsible development of the collaborative economy across the Single Market, in full respect of public interests. 

It will also complement existing instruments, in particular the Digital Services Act which regulates online platforms, and the rules of the Directive on administrative cooperation in the field of taxation (DAC7).

For More Information

Proposal for a Regulation on data collection and sharing relating to short-term accommodation rental services

Questions & Answers

Factsheet

Collaborative economy

Enforcing EU laws: delivering the benefits to citizens

Today, the European Commission adopted a Communication on the enforcement of EU law, setting out its work to ensure that EU law is complied with and citizens and businesses can benefit from the same rights across the EU. It is thanks to the correct application of EU law that people can breathe cleaner air, travel and work freely anywhere in the EU or get reimbursed for healthcare received abroad. EU law has a real impact on the everyday life of Europeans. This is why enforcement of EU law is a top priority for the Commission.

The Commission’s efforts to promote compliance start at an early stage when the EU law is designed and adopted. The Commission has developed a number of measures to support Member States, including practical guidance, funding and monitoring, helping to prevent EU law breaches from happening in the first place. At the same time, when EU law is breached, the Commission does not hesitate to take legal action by launching infringement procedures. In recent years, the Commission has initiated ground-breaking procedures to protect fundamental values: equality, justice and citizenship.

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen said: “EU law is what makes the EU – free, fair, and equal. It is the driving force behind a greener, more prosperous and digital Europe, where citizens can feel safe and protected. This should be the right for every European without exceptions. This is why we need comprehensive, smart and strategic enforcement of EU law to make sure that Europeans and business can reap the full benefits of what EU has to offer.”

The Communication:

  1. Working together with Member States

As the Guardian of the Treaties, the Commission has central responsibility for the enforcement of EU law. However, cooperation with Member States is crucial for that enforcement. The application and enforcement of EU law is the result of a combined effort of various actors like national courts, parliaments, regulatory bodies, consumer or data protection authorities, as well the civil society and the public. In particular, national courts, which are EU courts when applying EU law, have a particularly important role in the enforcement chain since it is through them that citizens can have effective access to redress.

  1. Monitoring and early detection of EU law breaches

Increased transparency and monitoring have proven to be effective in encouraging Member States to move faster towards compliance as well as raising awareness among the wider public. The Single Market Scoreboard, the EU Justice Scoreboard, the European Semester’s country-specific reports, the Rule of Law Report, the Environmental Implementation Review or Schengen evaluation are only some of the tools that help to identify potential issues, where enforcement of EU law might be needed. 

  1. Smart enforcement and preventing breaches from the outset

To prevent diverging interpretations of newly adopted EU law and to foster a common understanding of existing rules, the Commission provides Member States with practical guidance, meetings and trainings. Beyond the technical assistance the Commission also provides financial support. While the funding available under the European regional and structural funds or the Recovery and Resilience Facility are not enforcement tools, they can drive change and accelerate the implementation of EU law.

  1. Strategic enforcement and pre-infringement process (EU Pilot)

The Commission’s goal is to ensure that the benefits of EU law are enjoyed by citizens and businesses as quickly as possible. This is why in some cases, also those more technical, the Commission may decide to use a pre-infringement process, known as EU Pilot, which is likely to lead to swifter compliance than a formal infringement procedure. Over time, the EU Pilot process has proven its value. In 2021, over 80% of EU Pilot processes were successfully resolved. For those cases that do not succeed, infringement proceedings are launched.

  1. Tackling breaches of EU law through legal action

The Commission’s use of infringement procedures has evolved over time, giving priority to tackling breaches with the biggest impact on the interests of citizens and businesses. The Commission doubled down on issues concerning environment, digital transition as well as fundamental rights. In fact, the Commission has taken unprecedented legal steps to protect EU’s fundamental values, including non-discrimination of LGBT community, media freedom, fight against racism and xenophobia, and judicial independence. In addition, a larger proportion of cases were opened upon the Commission’s own investigations, with a steady increase over the past five years despite major crises. Overall, the infringement procedures are bringing results with over 90% of cases being resolved before a referral to the Court of Justice becomes necessary.

  1. Fast and effective reactions to crisis

Crises or emergency situations, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, put the Member States’ full compliance to the test. The Commission has used a wide variety of steps to help Member States adapt to changing circumstances, from proposing new legislation, adapting the existing rules, to offering guidance and financial support. Infringement procedures have also been used where necessary, for instance to prevent export restrictions and to protect the rights of consumers.

Next Steps

Enforcement of EU law is not a one-off event but requires steady and sustained efforts by Member States and the Commission to promote the consistent and effective application of EU rules. A stocktaking exercise is currently under way within the Commission and with Member States to ensure that the best possible enforcement tools are available to make EU law work in practice. Particular attention is given to better monitoring of the proper application of Regulations, and to further increasing transparency of our enforcement activities. The Commission will report on its outcome in 2023.

Background

The full, swift, and consistent implementation and application of EU law by Member States is key to make sure that people and businesses in the EU enjoy the benefits of commonly agreed rules as soon as possible. It ensures that people can count on their rights being respected at all times, wherever they live in the EU. This is particularly true when it comes to our shared values, the rule of law, security, the EU’s four freedoms, and the functioning of the Single Market.

The European Commission enforces EU laws and upholds the Treaties, as the ‘Guardian of the Treaties’. This overarching role gives the Commission central responsibility for enforcement. This is the basis on which the EU can make the most of the internal market, drive our transition to a greener and more digital Europe, protect and promote our values and the security of our Union, and ensure equal rights for all. Key work streams such as the annual Rule of Law reportsthe European Democracy Action Plan and the renewed strategy for the implementation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights combined represent a major intensification of work to strengthen the EU’s legal and democratic foundations.

For more information

Communication: Enforcing EU laws for a Europe that delivers

Factsheet

Applying EU law

Following dialogues with the Commission and the network of national consumer protection (CPC) authorities, multinational e-commerce business Shopify has committed to making several improvements to make shopping safer for customers, bringing it in line with EU rules. The dialogue first originated following the receipt of numerous complaints, which peaked during the COVID-19 pandemic, through the European Consumer Centres. The complaints mainly related to web stores hosted by the platform, found to have engaged in illegal practices, such as making fake offers and fake scarcity claims, supplying counterfeit goods or not providing their contact details. The Commission, together with the CPC, and led by Belgium’s Directorate General for Economic Inspection, launched a dialogue with Shopify in July 2021, aimed at introducing changes to address the illegal practices of traders in its platform. Shopify has now committed to create a fast and effective ‘notice and action’ procedure for national consumer authorities and to change its templates to push traders to be more transparent towards consumers.

Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders said: “Almost 75% of internet users in the EU are shopping online. This is a huge market for scammers and rogue traders to exploit, and they will continue to do so unless we act. We welcome Shopify’s commitment to ensure that traders operating on its platform are aware of their responsibilities under EU law, and are taken down if they break the rules.”

Main commitments:

To address the issue of web shops providing insufficient information about their companies, as well as missing mandatory information on consumer rights, Shopify has committed to:

  • Designing its templates for web shops contact pages and generators for Terms and Conditions, Privacy Policies and Refund Policies to include fields for company information and contact details;
  • Providing clear guidance to traders on the applicable EU consumer law;
  • Providing company details about any EU trader when requested by any national consumer authority.

To address breaches of EU consumer law by web shops notified by national consumer authorities in a faster and more efficient way, Shopify has agreed to take down the concerned web shops, as well as provide the relevant company details. Such breaches could include, for instance, fake scarcity claims, pressure selling, counterfeit goods, or undelivered products, for example.

Moreover, national consumer authorities have also agreed to reinforce their cooperation with the Canadian Competition Bureau against Shopify traders that are not based in the EU/EEA.

Next steps

The Consumer Protection Cooperation Network (CPC) will actively monitor the implementation of these commitments, as well as any further complaints made by consumers.

In addition, actions at national level may be launched to ensure that EU standards are respected and to guarantee that all platforms abide by the same rules.

Background

The Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) is a network of authorities responsible for the enforcement of EU consumer protection laws. To tackle cross-border issues, their actions are coordinated at EU level.

National authorities are responsible for the enforcement of EU consumer protection laws. Thanks to the updated Consumer Protection Cooperation Regulation, they now have stronger powers to detect irregularities and take speedy action against rogue traders. Cooperation applies to consumer rules covering various areas such as unfair commercial practices, e-commerce, geo-blocking, package holidays, online selling, and passenger rights.

More Information

Common position of national authorities of the CPC Network

Factsheet on Shopify’s commitments

More information on consumer enforcement actions 

The Council today took an important step to ensure a safer online environment by approving the Digital Services Act (DSA). The DSA protects the digital space against the spread of illegal content and ensures the protection of users’ fundamental rights.

Jozef Síkela, Minister for Industry and Trade

The Digital Services Act is one of the EU’s most ground-breaking horizontal regulations and I am convinced it has the potential to become the ‘gold standard’ for other regulators in the world. By setting new standards for a safer and more accountable online environment, the DSA marks the beginning of a new relationship between online platforms and users and regulators in the European Union and beyond.

Jozef Síkela, Minister for Industry and Trade

The DSA is considered a world first in the field of digital regulation: no other legislative act has this level of ambition as regards regulating platforms and online supervision while preserving the core principles of the internal market.

New rules online

The DSA defines clear responsibilities and accountability for providers of intermediary services, such as social media, online marketplaces, very large online platforms (VLOPs) and very large online search engines (VLOSEs). The rules are designed asymmetrically, which means that larger intermediary services with significant societal impact (VLOPs and VLOSEs) are subject to stricter rules.

Under the DSA, platforms will not only have to be more transparent, but will also be held accountable for their role in disseminating illegal and harmful content. Amongst other things, the DSA:

  • lays down special obligations for online marketplaces in order to combat the online sale of illegal products and services;
  • introduces measures to counter illegal content online and obligations for platforms to react quickly, while respecting fundamental rights;
  • better protects minors online by prohibiting platforms from using targeted advertising based on the use of minors’ personal data as defined in EU law;
  • imposes certain limits on the presentation of advertising and on the use of sensitive personal data for targeted advertising, including genderrace and religion;
  • bans misleading interfaces known as ‘dark patterns’and practices aimed at misleading

Stricter rules apply for very large online platforms and search engines (VLOPs and VLOSEs), which will have to:

  • offer users a system for recommending content that is not based on profiling;
  • analyse the systemic risks they create – risks related to the dissemination of illegal content, negative effects on fundamental rights, on electoral processes and on gender-based violence or mental health. 

Crisis mechanism

In the context of the Russian aggression in Ukraine and the particular impact on the manipulation of online information, the DSA introduces a crisis response mechanism. This mechanism will make it possible to analyse the impact of the activities of VLOPs and VLOSEs on the crisis in question and rapidly decide on proportionate and effective measures to ensure the respect of fundamental rights.

Infographic – Digital Services Act

Individual bubbles to show the different EU member states and their e-commerce dataSee full infographic

Background

The EU’s legal framework for digital services had not changed since the adoption of the e-commerce directive in 2000. In the meantime, digital technologies, business models and services have changed at an unprecedented pace. To keep up with this pace, the European Commission presented a digital services package comprising the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Markets Act (DMA) in December 2020.

The digital services package is the EU’s response to the need to regulate the digital space. Together, the DSA and the DMA define a framework adapted to the economic and democratic footprint of digital giants and introduce measures to protect users while supporting innovation in the digital economy.

On 25 November 2021, less than a year after the start of negotiations in the Council, member states unanimously agreed on the Council’s position on the DSA.

On 23 April 2022, the Council and the European Parliament reached a provisional agreement on the DSA, which was endorsed by EU member states’ representatives on 15 June 2022.

The provisional agreement on the DMA was reached by the Council and the European Parliament on 24 March 2022 and signed by the Council and the European Parliament on 15 September 2022. The DMA will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 13 October 2022.

Next steps

Following the Council’s approval today of the European Parliament’s position, the legislative act was adopted.

After being signed by the President of the European Parliament and the President of the Council, it will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and will start to apply fifteen months after its entry into force.

Today, the Commission adopted two proposals to adapt liability rules to the digital age, circular economy and the impact of global value chains. Firstly, it proposes to modernise the existing rules on the strict liability of manufacturers for defective products (from smart technology to pharmaceuticals). The revised rules will give businesses legal certainty so they can invest in new and innovative products and will ensure that victims can get fair compensation when defective products, including digital and refurbished products, cause harm. Secondly, the Commission proposes for the first time a targeted harmonisation of national liability rules for AI, making it easier for victims of AI-related damage to get compensation. In line with the objectives of the AI White Paper and with the Commission’s 2021 AI Act proposal, setting out a framework for excellence and trust in AI – the new rules will ensure that victims benefit from the same standards of protection when harmed by AI products or services, as they would if harm was caused under any other circumstances.

Revised Product Liability Directive, fit for the green and digital transition and global value chains

The revised Directive modernises and reinforces the current well-established rules, based on the strict liability of manufacturers, for the compensation of personal injury, damage to property or data loss caused by unsafe products, from garden chairs to advanced machinery. It ensures fair and predictable rules for businesses and consumers alike by:

•  Modernising liability rules for circular economy business models: by ensuring that liability rules are clear and fair for companies that substantially modify products.

•  Modernising liability rules for products in the digital age: allowing compensation for damage when products like robots, drones or smart-home systems are made unsafe by software updates, AI or digital services that are needed to operate the product, as well as when manufacturers fail to address cybersecurity vulnerabilities.

•  Creating a more level playing field between EU and non-EU manufacturers: when consumers are injured by unsafe products imported from outside the EU, they will be able to turn to the importer or the manufacturer’s EU representative for compensation.

•  Putting consumers on an equal footing with manufacturers: by requiring manufacturers to disclose evidence, by introducing more flexibility to the time restrictions to introduce claims, and by alleviating the burden of proof for victims in complex cases, such as those involving pharmaceuticals or AI.

Easier access to redress for victims AI Liability Directive

The purpose of the AI Liability Directive is to lay down uniform rules for access to information and alleviation of the burden of proof in relation to damages caused by AI systems, establishing broader protection for victims (be it individuals or businesses), and fostering the AI sector by increasing guarantees. It will harmonise certain rules for claims outside of the scope of the Product Liability Directive, in cases in which damage is caused due to wrongful behaviour. This covers, for example, breaches of privacy, or damages caused by safety issues. The new rules will, for instance, make it easier to obtain compensation if someone has been discriminated in a recruitment process involving AI technology.

The Directive simplifies the legal process for victims when it comes to proving that someone’s fault led to damage, by introducing two main features: first, in circumstances where a relevant fault has been established and a causal link to the AI performance seems reasonably likely, the so called ‘presumption of causality’ will address the difficulties experienced by victims in having to explain in detail how harm was caused by a specific fault or omission, which can be particularly hard when trying to understand and navigate complex AI systems. Second, victims will have more tools to seek legal reparation, by introducing a right of access to evidence from companies and suppliers, in cases in which high-risk AI is involved.

The new rules strike a balance between protecting consumers and fostering innovation, removing additional barriers for victims to access compensation, while laying down guarantees for the AI sector by introducing, per instance, the right to fight a liability claim based on a presumption of causality.

Members of the College said:

 Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová said: “We want the AI technologies to thrive in the EU. For this to happen, people need to trust digital innovations. With today’s proposal on AI civil liability we give customers tools for remedies in case of damage caused by AI so that they have the same level of protection as with traditional technologies and we ensure legal certainty for our internal market.”

Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton, said: “The Product Liability Directive has been a cornerstone of the internal market for four decades. Today’s proposal will make it fit to respond to the challenges of the decades to come. The new rules will reflect global value chains, foster innovation and consumer trust, and provide stronger legal certainty for businesses involved in the green and digital transition.”

 Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, said: “While considering the huge potential of new technologies, we must always ensure the safety of consumers. Proper standards of protection for EU citizens are the basis for consumer trust and therefore successful innovation. New technologies like drones or delivery services operated by AI can only work when consumers feel safe and protected. Today, we propose modern liability rules that will do just that. We make our legal framework fit for the realities of the digital transformation.”

Next steps

The Commission’s proposal will now need to be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council.

It is proposed that five years after the entry into force of the AI Liability Directive, the Commission will assess the need for no-fault liability rules for AI-related claims if necessary.

Background

The current EU rules on product liability, based on the strict liability of manufacturers, are almost 40 years old. Modern rules on liability are important for the green and digital transformation, specifically to adapt to new technologies, like Artificial Intelligence. This is about providing legal certainty for businesses and ensuring consumers are well protected in case something goes wrong.

In her Political Guidelines, President von der Leyen laid out a coordinated European approach on Artificial Intelligence. The Commission has undertaken to promote the uptake of AI and to holistically address the risks associated with its uses and potential damages.

In its White Paper on AI of 19 February 2020, the Commission undertook to promote the uptake of AI and to address the risks associated with some of its uses by fostering excellence and trust. In the Report on AI Liability accompanying the White Paper, the Commission identified the specific challenges posed by AI to existing liability rules.

The Commission adopted its proposal for the AI Act, which lays down horizontal rules on artificial intelligence, focusing on the prevention of damage, in April 2021. The AI Act is a flagship initiative for ensuring safety and trustworthiness of high-risk AI systems developed and used in the EU. It will guarantee the safety and fundamental rights of people and businesses, while strengthening AI uptake, investment and innovation. Today’s AI liability package complements the AI Act by facilitating fault-based civil liability claims for damages, laying down a new standard of trust in reparation.

The AI Liability Directive adapts private law to the new challenges brought by AI. Together with the revision of the Product Liability Directive, these initiatives complement the Commission’s effort to make liability rules fit for the green and digital transition.

For More Information

Proposal for a Directive on adapting non contractual civil liability rules to artificial intelligence   

Proposal: Revision of the Product Liability Directive

Questions & Answers: AI Liability Directive

Questions & Answers: Product Liability Directive

Liability rules on Artificial Intelligence

Liability of defective products 

Commission White Paper on Artificial Intelligence – A European approach to excellence and trust

Commission Report on the safety and liability implications of Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things and robotics

Expert Group report on Liability for artificial intelligence and other emerging digital technologies

Comparative Law Study on Civil Liability for Artificial Intelligence

 

Today we celebrate World Tourism Day. For this occasion, ECC Malta would like to share some tips on how to prevent financial surprises when planning your well-deserved holiday break. Hidden extra charges can be very annoying, especially when you have a limited budget and have not planned these additional costs. Below we have listed the most common additional charges that one may encounter during a holiday. 

Additional costs in hotels

Almost every hotel has specific check-in times. Therefore, if you arrive at the hotel early in the morning and wish to go straight to your room, you need to inform the hotel beforehand about this since you will probably be charged extra for the early check-in. Beware of other additional charges, such as parking fees, for using the safe, the TV in your room, or Wi-Fi. Sometimes these facilities are complimentary with the booking; however, this may not be the case, especially with budget hotels.

If you want to bring your pet, always search for pet-friendly hotels and be aware this usually will come at a cost. Furthermore, in some hotels, a cleaning fee may be added to your bill; sometimes, it may apply even without pets. It is also important to note that a local tourism tax is levied in several EU countries. 

Good to know: You have the right to be informed about any additional costs and the respective fees which are not included in the booking before concluding the contract. This information should be available on the booking page or in the hotel’s general terms and conditions. It must be clearly indicated if additional services are offered at the location like towel rental and use of faster internet.

Additional costs for package tours

Package tours come in handy when you want a hassle-free holiday. It would help if you kept in mind that under certain conditions, the organiser could increase the price by up to 8% even after booking. Such circumstances include, for example, variations in the costs of fuel and kerosene, changes in port or airport taxes, or when there are currency fluctuations.

However, the travel organiser is obliged to justify on a durable medium that there is an increase in the price, not later than 20 days before the start of the package tour. The travel organiser must also inform you about the possibility of a price adjustment before the contract is concluded. It is also a prerequisite that the calculation of the new price is transparent.

However, if the cost increases were foreseeable at the time of booking or if one of the above conditions is not met, you may refuse payment. Similarly, the price increase is also effective without your consent if all the above conditions are met.

If the price increases by more than 8%, the organiser must inform you and request that you explicitly accept the increase within a certain period or withdraw from the contract. The price increase is considered accepted if you do not respond within this period. Thus react in time if you do not wish to accept the price rise.

Additional costs for flights

Before booking, passengers must be informed of the airfare, including all taxes, fees and surcharges. However, you should still be aware of any additional services you may incur, such as check-in at the airport (instead of online), checked baggage, seat selection, meals, etc.

Tips on how to Recognize & avoid additional costs 

  • Read offers carefully and check which services are included before you book. In case of doubt, contact the hotel or the tour operator.
  • Read customer reviews to see if other guests have complained about unexpected additional costs.
  • Ask for the bill before the end of your stay to detect extra charges.
  • Book cancellable rates. These might be more expensive, but you may save on high cancellation fees.
  • Before choosing extra travel insurance: Check if the insurance on your credit card is sufficient.
  • If you book “all inclusive”, you will have fewer surprises regarding food and beverage costs.
  • Book well in advance.
  • Use a less popular airport.
  • Book in the off-season or on less busy weekdays.
  • Instead of using hotel parking, choose free public parking lots.

 

 

Press contact:

ECC Net Malta – ecc.malta@mccaa.org.mt 

The Commission and national consumer authorities have just received the confirmation from 16 major European airlines,  that they reimbursed over 500,000 flight vouchers that they had imposed on consumers for cancelled flights during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the result of the dialogue that the Commission and the Consumer Protection Network (CPC Network) conducted in 2021 to address the consequences of the massive and unprecedented flight cancellations which happened in the early stages of the pandemic.

As part of the 2021 dialogue, the airlines committed to measures to bring their practices in line with EU consumer and passenger rights law. The commitments include: clearing reimbursement backlogs and reimbursing passengers timely; better informing consumers of their cancellation-related rights; and offering consumers to exchange vouchers for money in all cases where vouchers had been imposed on consumers previously.

The airlines’ reports on the implementation of the commitments show that airlines cleared the bulk of their reimbursement backlogs and adapted their websites, e-mail and other communication to better inform consumers of their rights when a flight is cancelled. Airlines also contacted more than 2.5 million consumers holding unused vouchers that had been pushed on them and more than 500,000 of those consumers decided to get their money back.

In addition, in light of the current situation, with many travellers impacted by delays and cancellations of flights, these commitments made during the pandemic by airlines remain relevant and applicable. The Commission will therefore continue to closely monitor the situation to ensure that it is dealt with in strict compliance with consumer and passenger rights.

Next steps

As a follow-up to the dialogue with the airlines, the CPC Network recently launched a dialogue on the practices of four major European airline intermediaries: eDreams ODIGEO, Etraveli, Kiwi.com and Otravo. It addresses mainly the following issues: information on consumers’ cancellation-related rights; reimbursements following flight cancellations; and intermediaries’ customer service.

In parallel, as announced in its New Consumer Agenda of November 2020 and building on a report issued in 2021, the Commission is currently carrying out a review of the Package Travel Directive, as well as of the Passenger rights rules, taking into account the lessons learnt from the COVID-19 crisis. The Commission intends to present its proposals in 2023.

Members of the College said:

Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders said: “Airlines have overall implemented their commitments regarding the massive cancelation crisis of 2020. The bulk of reimbursement backlogs has been cleared, consumers are better informed of their rights and millions of euros were reimbursed. I however call on airlines to keep up with these efforts, also now as travellers are experiencing again numerous delays and cancellations. We will closely follow up and check how passengers will be reimbursed or paid compensation if relevant to ensure a strict and diligent application of EU rules.”

Background

The coordinated investigation of CPC authorities into airlines’ cancellation practices was triggered by an alert of the Commission in December 2020 based on information from various sources, including BEUC, the EU-level federation of consumer associations, and the French and Belgian consumer organisations UFC-Que Choisir and Test achats/Test aankoop

In February 2021, the CPC Network led by six coordinating authorities – Belgian FPS Economy, German Luftfahrt-Bundesamt, Greek Civil Aviation Authority, Italian Competition Authority, Spanish Ministry of Consumer Affairs and Swedish Consumer Agency – and assisted by the Commission sent a survey to the 16 airlines generating the highest numbers of complaints from consumers across the Union.

Following an evaluation of the replies received from the airlines, the Commission and the CPC Network then elaborated a list of measures and urged the airlines to improve their practices with the help of that list. The commitments proposed by the airlines to undertake relevant measures were discussed and finalised in individual dialogues during the months of August and September 2021.

In spring 2022, the airlines reported to the CPC network on where they stand with the implementation of their commitments.

The coordinated investigation of CPC authorities into the practices of airline intermediaries is a follow-up to the dialogue with airlines that had cast a spotlight also on the role of airline intermediaries in the context of flight cancellations. European Consumer Centres (ECCs), coordinated by ECC France, have transmitted information to the CPC network on the most frequent issues in complaints against airline intermediaries. The four airline intermediaries with whom the CPC Network launched a dialogue operate some of the largest airline intermediary platforms in the EU. The dialogue is coordinated by the Swedish Consumer Agency.

In parallel, following the mass cancellations due to the pandemic, the Commission took legal action against 10 Member States for breaching EU rules package travel. Throughout the crisis, the Commission consistently made clear that consumer rights remain valid and national measures to support the industry must not lower them. On 13 May 2020, the Commission adopted a specific Recommendation on vouchers to support Member States in setting up attractive, reliable and flexible voucher schemes. Currently, all Member States have aligned their national legislations with the EU rules. However, the case against one Member State is still pending before to the Court of the EU.

For More Information

Consumer protection: Airlines commit to timely reimbursement after flight cancellations – 30 September 2021

Coordinated consumer actions: air travel

Consumer Protection Cooperation Network

Following a dialogue with the European Commission and national consumer protection authorities, Amazon has committed to bringing its cancellation practices in line with EU consumer rules. The platform will enable consumers from the EU and EEA to unsubscribe from Amazon Prime with just two clicks, using a prominent and clear “cancel button”. This change was necessary to comply with the EU rules on consumer protection and, in particular, with the Unfair commercial practices Directive. Following a complaint by the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), the Norwegian Consumer Council and the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue, an action was launched in April 2021 by the Commission in cooperation with national consumer authorities. The reported cancellation practices consisted in a large number of hurdles to unsubscribe, including complicated navigation menus, skewed wording, confusing choices, and repeated nudging. Amazon has now committed to improve its cancellation policy and will implement the changes as of today.

Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders said: “Opting for an online subscriptions can be very handy for consumers as it is often a very straightforward process, but the reverse action of unsubscribing should be just as easy. Consumers must be able to exercise their rights without any pressure from platforms. One thing is clear: manipulative design or “dark patterns” must be banned. I welcome Amazon’s commitment to simplify their practices to allow consumers to unsubscribe freely and easily.”

Previously, to cancel their subscription, consumers had to scroll through multiple pages containing distracting information and unclear button labels. As a first measure resulting from this dialogue initiated in 2021, Amazon started making changes to its Prime web interface, labelling the cancel button more clearly and shortening the explanatory text. From now, this text will be further reduced so that consumers do not get distracted by warnings and deterred from cancelling. Overall, as a result of the dialogue, the platform will now enable consumers to unsubscribe in two simple steps, through an easy and visible cancellation button.

Amazon has committed to implementing these changes on all its EU websites and for all devices (desktop, mobile and tablet).

Next steps

The Commission and national authorities will continue to monitor the implementation of Amazon’s commitments to align with EU consumer law. 

Background

The Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) is a network of authorities responsible for the enforcement of EU consumer protection laws. To tackle cross-border issues, their actions are coordinated at EU level.

National authorities are responsible for the enforcement of EU consumer protection laws. Thanks to the updated Consumer Protection Cooperation Regulation, they now have stronger powers to detect irregularities and take speedy action against rogue traders. Cooperation applies to consumer rules covering various areas such as unfair commercial practices, e-commerce, geo-blocking, package holidays, online selling, and passenger rights.

More information

Coordinated actions on Market places and digital services

More information on consumer enforcement actions

 

Annex

Screenshots of the new cancelation procedure, that Amazon committed to implement:

Screenshots of the previous cancellation procedure (source: Report “You can log out, but you can never leave”, Norwegian Consumer Council) to illustrate distracting information and button labels

Screenshots of the previous cancellation procedure

 

 

Screenshots of the previous cancellation procedure

 

Screenshots of the previous cancellation procedure

Tomorrow, 1 July 2022, the new improved Roaming regulation enters into force. It extends “Roam-like-at-home” until 2032 – the scheme thanks to which travellers in the EU and the EEA can call, text and surf abroad without extra charges. The new rules will also bring about significant benefits for EU businesses and citizens, who will enjoy a better roaming experience, with the same quality of mobile service abroad as they have at home. The new rules also improve access to emergency communications across the EU and guarantee clear information about services that may be subject to extra charges.

Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age, said: “With our roaming regulation we have all benefitted from Roam-like-at-home. We can call, text and use the Internet without extra costs when we travel in the EU. This is a very tangible benefit of our European Single Market. Prolonging these rules will keep inter-operator prices competitive, and allow consumers to continue enjoying free-of-charge roaming services for the next ten years.”

Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market, said: Remember when we had to switch off mobile data when travelling in Europe — to avoid ending up with a massive roaming bill? Well this is history. And we intend to keep it this way for at least the next 10 years. Better speed, more transparency: we keep improving EU citizens’ lives.”

Better mobile internet speed while travelling

Consumers now will have the right to the same quality of mobile internet abroad, as the one they have at home. Operators providing mobile services should ensure that consumers have access to use 4G, or the more advanced 5G, networks, if these are available at the destination the consumer is visiting. Consumers should be able to find information about network availability in their mobile service contracts and on the operators’ websites.

Preventing unexpected hidden charges

When consumers travel by planes or on boats, mobile phones may automatically connect to the on-board network, provided by satellites. Using mobile connection services provided by non-terrestrial networks may be subject to very high surcharges. The new roaming rules oblige operators to protect their consumers and notify them if their phones switch to a non-terrestrial networks. Additionally, operators should automatically interrupt mobile services if the mobile services over non-terrestrial networks reach charges of €50 or another predefined limit. Operators may also offer additional services, such as the possibility to opt out from roaming on planes and boats.  

More information for better choices

Consumers should be able to make informed decisions about using services that may subject them to additional costs. When travelling abroad, calling customer service, insurance and airline helpdesks, or SMS texting to participate in contests or events, may be more expensive than it costs at home. Operators have to make sure to provide consumers with information about the types of phone numbers that may carry additional costs when consumers dial or access them from abroad. Operators should inform consumers via automatic SMS messages sent when crossing the border to another EU country, as well as in the service contracts.

112 – Emergency communication while travelling

The new roaming rules are ensuring that citizens are aware of the single EU emergency number 112, which they can use anywhere in the EU to reach emergency services. By June 2023, operators should send automatic messages to their customers who travel abroad to inform them about the available alternative means of reaching emergency services, such as through real time text or apps. Those citizens who are not able to make voice calls may use these alternative means.

Lower inter-operator prices, better conditions for consumers

The new Roaming regulation sets lower wholesale charges, the cost to operators for using networks abroad to provide services to their customers when they are abroad. The wholesale caps are set at levels that ensure that operators can sustain and recover the cost of providing roaming services to consumers at domestic prices:

  • For data services, the new regulation sets the following wholesale caps: 2 €/GB in 2022, 1.8 €/GB in 2023, 1.55 €/GB in 2024, 1.3 €/GB in 2025, 1.1 €/GB in 2026 and 1 EUR/GB from 2027 onwards.
  • For voice: 0.022 €/min in 2022-2024 and 0.019 €/min from 2025 onwards.
  • For SMS: 0.004 €/SMS in 2022-2024 and 0.003 €/SMS from 2025 onwards.

Lower wholesale charges benefit consumers, as they should ensure that all operators are able to offer competitive roaming subscriptions in line with the ‘Roam like at home’ principle.

Background

Thanks to the EU Roaming regulation since 2017, citizens have been enjoying free roaming to call, text and use mobile data abroad in the EU without additional charges. A review of the rules has shown that there was room for improvement. In the latest Eurobarometer from February 2021, 33% of respondents who travelled abroad had lower mobile internet speed than they usually had at home, and 28% had a lower network standard abroad (i.e. a 3G network instead of 4G). Furthermore, a study conducted by the Joint Research Centre found that 25% of customers had, at least once, experienced worse quality of service in roaming compared to at home, even when network conditions could have provided better quality. As the previous Roaming regulation was due to expire on 30 June 2020 and, in order to allow all mobile phone and Internet users to continue being connected at no extra charge when travelling across Member States, the Commission had proposed in February 2021 a new improved Roaming regulation. It enters into force tomorrow, 1 July.

For More Information

About Roaming

Updated Questions and Answers on the new Roaming Regulation

Questions and answers about how ‘Roam like at home’ works

Reports and Studies about Roaming

Following dialogues with the Commission and the network of national consumer protection (CPC) authorities, TikTok has committed to align its practices with the EU rules on advertising and consumer protection, namely, the Unfair commercial practices Directive, the Consumer rights Directive and the Unfair contract terms Directive.  This dialogue first originated from a complaint of the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC). In February 2021, BEUC raised the alarm regarding certain problematic practices of TikTok allegedly breaching EU consumer rules. For instance, BEUC had found that the social media platform was failing to protect children from hidden advertising and inappropriate content. Following the complaint, the Commission, together with the CPC, and led by the Irish and Swedish consumer authorities, launched a dialogue with TikTok. The series of concerns have now been addressed and TikTok committed to change its practices.

Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders said: “All social media platforms are required to play by the rules and make sure that consumers can easily identify commercial content, including when promoted by influencers. We welcome TikTok’s commitment for more transparency in the way it operates its business activity. Thanks to our dialogue, consumers will be able to spot all kinds of advertisement that they are exposed to when using this platform. Despite today’s commitment, we will continue to monitor the situation in the future, paying particular attention to the effects on young users.”

Overview of main commitments:  

  • Users can now report advertisements and offers that could potentially push or trick children into purchasing goods or services;
  • Branded content now abides by a policy protecting users, which prohibits the promotion of inappropriate products and services, such as alcohol, “get rich quick” schemes and cigarettes;
  • Users are prompted to switch on a toggle when they publish content captioned with specific brand-related keywords such as #ad or #sponsored;
  • If a user has more than 10,000 followers, their videos are reviewed by TikTok against its Branded Content Policy and Community Guidelines to ensure that the content is appropriate;
  • Policies clarify how to purchase and use coins, and pop-up windows will provide the estimated price in local currencies. Consumers are allowed to withdraw within 14 days from the purchase, and their purchase history is also available;
  • Policies also clarify how to get rewards from TikTok and how to send gifts, for which users will be able to easily calculate their price;
  • Paid advertisement in videos will be identified with a new label, which will be tested for effectiveness by a third party;
  • Users are able to report undisclosed branded content, and new rules for hashtags and labels will be implemented.

Next steps

The Consumer Protection Cooperation Network (CPC) will actively monitor the implementation of these commitments, in 2022 and beyond. Data Protection Authorities will remain competent to assess compliance of the new policies and practices of the company with EU data protection rules.

CPC authorities will, in particular, monitor and assess compliance where concerns remain, such as whether there is sufficient clarity around children’s understanding of the commercial aspects of TikTok’s practices. For example, for what concerns personalised advertising, in light of the recently published “5 key principles of fair advertising to children

The CPC will also carefully check the outcome of the testing of labels, as well as their implementation, and the adequacy of the display of the estimated unit price per coin in local currency when sending a gift. In addition, actions at national level may be launched to ensure that EU standards are respected and to guarantee that all platforms abide by the same rules.

Background

The Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) is a network of authorities responsible for the enforcement of EU consumer protection laws. To tackle cross-border issues, their actions are coordinated at EU level.

National authorities are responsible for the enforcement of EU consumer protection laws. Thanks to the updated Consumer Protection Cooperation Regulation, they now have stronger powers to detect irregularities and take speedy action against rogue traders. Cooperation applies to consumer rules covering various areas such as unfair commercial practices, e-commerce, geo-blocking, package holidays, online selling, and passenger rights.

More information

CPC actions: social media and search engines

IP/22/3823

The Commission welcomes the swift provisional political agreement reached this morning between the European Parliament and EU Member States on the Commission’s proposal on a common charging solution adopted in September 2021. As of 2024, all new handheld mobile phones, tablets, digital cameras, handheld videogame consoles, headphones, headsets, portable speakers, e-readers, keyboards, mice, portable navigation systems, and earbuds will have to be equipped with a USB-C charging port. The deadline for laptops is 2026.

Leveraging the power of the Single Market, these new and long-awaited rules will bring resource and CO2 savings while allowing technological innovation.

Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for a Europe fit for the Digital Age, said: “No more bundles of different chargers in our drawers. One common charger is a real benefit to us as consumers. It will also help our environment. So we welcome today’s agreement of the common charger following a swift conclusion of negotiations between the co-legislators.”

Thierry Breton, Commissioner responsible for the Internal Market, said: “A common charger is common sense for the many electronic devices on our daily lives. Thanks to our strong political commitment, we found an agreement in less than 9 months. European consumers will be able to use a single charger for all their portable electronics – an important step to increase convenience and reduce waste. The deal we struck this morning will bring around 250 million euros of savings to consumers annually.  It will also allow new technologies such as wireless charging to emerge and to mature without letting innovation to become source of market fragmentation and consumer inconvenience.”

Today’s agreement reached by the co-legislators confirms and extends the Commission’s proposal:

•  The charging port and fast charging technology will be harmonised: first, USB-C will be the common port. This will allow consumers to charge their devices with the same USB-C charger, regardless of the device brand. At the same time, harmonising fast charging technology will help prevent that different producers unjustifiably limit the charging speed and will help to ensure that charging speed is the same when using any compatible charger for a device. These rules will now apply to a range of electronic devices mentioned above. More devices may be included in the future following regular assessment of the market by the Commission.

•  Unbundling the sale of a charger from the sale of the electronic device: consumers will be able to purchase a new electronic device without a new charger. This will limit the number of unwanted chargers purchased or left unused. The results produced and the possible extension of the measure to the cable will be assessed in the course of the implementation.

•  Improved information for consumers: producers will need to provide relevant information about charging performance, including information on the power required by the device and if it supports fast charging. This will make it easier for consumers to see if their existing chargers meet the requirements of their new device or help them to select a compatible charger.

•  Setting the way for harmonised wireless charging solutions: since the technology is evolving rapidly and in order to limit a potential future fragmentation of the market, the Commission will assess the different technologies available in view of a possible future harmonisation, and will request to European Standardisation Organisations that the appropriate solution is translated into a harmonised standard. 

The agreement reached today also ensures that the common charger solutions can be implemented without delay, especially given the widely available technological solutions and ample time already given to industry to adapt. A transition period of 24 months from official adoption is therefore established to make the common charger a reality for everyone for all categories of products in scope except for laptops which will benefit from 40 months.

Background

In 2020, approximately 420 million mobile phones and other portable electronic devices were sold in the EU. However, due to incompatible chargers on the market more than a third of consumers report having experiencing problems, while spending approximately €2.4 billion annually on additional standalone chargers. At the same time, disposed of and unused chargers contribute to around 11,000 tonnes of e-waste every year.

The Commission has supported a common charging solution for mobile phones and similar electronic devices since 2009. While years of working with industry on a voluntary approach helped to bring down the number of mobile phone chargers from 30 to 3 within the last decade, this approach did not allow achieve the full harmonisation. With regards to the unbundling of chargers, there was currently no legal basis to frame such a practice. Since it delivers significant environmental benefits, it is important to complement the harmonisation of the charging receptacle. Additionally, the harmonisation of the charging protocol ensures that both provisions guarantee the full interoperability and retrieve the biggest benefits for consumers and the environment. Those benefits will be enhanced by the broadening of the list of categories of products covered. With regards to wireless charging, the Commission will monitor the evolution of the technologies and market dynamic with the objective of introducing a future harmonisation. 

For More Information

Press release on the Commission’s proposal on a common charging solution for electronic devices

Factsheet on the Commission’s proposal on a common charging solution for electronic devices

IP/22/3524

Today, the Commission has adopted a new European strategy for a Better Internet for Kids (BIK+), to improve age-appropriate digital services and to ensure that every child is protected, empowered and respected online.

Read more…

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.  

Read more….

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.

Read more…

 

 

 

 

Press release

 

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.  

Austria

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.

Belgium

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.

Bulgaria

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.

Croatia

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

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.

Denmark

“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

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.

Germany

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.

Italy

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.

Latvia

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

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.

Malta

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.

Netherlands

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.

Norway

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.

Poland

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.

Portugal

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.

Slovenia

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

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.

 

Press contact:

ECC Net Malta – ecc.malta@mccaa.org.mt 

 

This press release was funded by the European Union. The content of this visual represents the views of the author only and it is his/her sole responsibility; it cannot be considered to reflect the views of the European Commission and/or the European Innovation Council and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Executive Agency (EISMEA) or any other body of the European Union. The European Commission and the Agency do not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information it contains.

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.”

More information: https://ec.europa.eu/info/european-union-and-united-kingdom-forging-new-partnership/future-partnership/getting-ready-end-transition-period_en

Press release

 May 7, 2021

Since March 2020, consumers have even more than before turned to the European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net) for help with cross-border problems. The network has recovered a total of over 4 million euros since the beginning of the pandemic for consumers whose flights were cancelled, whose hotels were closed or who suffered another COVID-19 related breach of their rights, for example an online purchase that went wrong due to the pandemic.

The ECC-Net helps to get a refund

Not being able to travel is one thing. Losing money is another. The European network helps consumers who cannot find an agreement with the tour operator or any other company based in another EU country, Iceland or Norway.

Especially since the pandemic, it repeatedly happens that travellers have the lawful right to get a refund, but only receive a partial amount or nothing at all. Or they are offered a voucher when in fact they are entitled to an immediate refund. This is exactly where the network comes in. In almost 70 % of the disputes it received, it has been able to achieve a positive and out-of-court solution for the consumer.

ECC-Net COVID-19 year in figures

Between March 2020 and March 2021, the network received 170,000 enquiries from consumers across Europe whose consumer rights had been infringed or who had a question about European consumer law.

This is 44 % more than in the same period the year before. The vast majority of enquiries related to the tourism sector: cancelled flights, consumers who did not want to or could not travel due to the pandemic, closed accommodation or cancelled package holidays.

 

 

Context:

Each EU country as well as Iceland and Norway have a European Consumer Centre. Together they form the ECC-Net. The ECC-Net informs consumers in Europe about their rights and provides free help with cross-border problems. It is co-financed by the European Commission. The network cooperates with the UK International Consumer Centre.

Press release

December 15, 2021

On 16th December 2021, the European Consumer Centre Network will launch an information hub for European consumers. Through this new website, European consumers can find all the answers to their questions about consumer rights and entitlements on the European Consumer Centre Network (ECC-Net)’s brand new website.

Members from the Netherlands, Ireland, Sweden, Italy, Cyprus, and Germany worked together to produce a clear and comprehensive source of information and answers to all relevant issues and dilemmas faced by European consumers. This new user-friendly digital platform is a complete and practical guide to consumer protections under European Union law.

The ECC-Net offers European consumers advice on their consumer rights and legal protection when shopping and travelling in another European Union Member or European Economic Area country. The new website gives consumers practical guidance on how to exercise their consumer rights and where to turn to for help when something goes wrong. ECC-Net, will assist consumers by finding an amicable out-of-court solution to consumer-business disputes following cross-border transactions. Where necessary, they liaise directly with the business and ensure that the consumer is informed of their rights and receives expert assistance in their language.

Apart from all the information on the new website eccnet.eu, you can also find the contact details of all European Consumer Centres, including Norway and Iceland, to get in touch with a question or to submit a complaint about a cross-border business.

The ECC-Net’s updates on the launch of the new website are available on the Twitter channel:  twitter.com/ECC_web

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