New Protections for European Union Consumers

On the 28th of May 2022, new rules on consumer rights apply in the European Union as Directive (EU) 2019/2161, the Better enforcement and modernisation Directive (also known as the Omnibus Directive) comes into force.

The latest Directive updates existing consumer protection legislation that regulates the main types of consumer contracts and introduces new and enhanced consumer protection measures so as to make consumer legislation fit for the current digital age. Specifically, and most importantly, this Directive’s new rules will:

  • enhance protections and rights for European consumers
  • address the challenges posed by online sellers, digital platforms and marketplaces, and
  • equip consumer authorities with stronger tools to enforce consumer rights.

Because e-commerce technology has developed exponentially over the last few years, and also because the complexity of online consumer contracts has increased, the new consumer protection rules will introduce:

  • An obligation on the digital platform/marketplace to clearly state whether a buyer (the consumer) engages in a purchasing transaction with a third-party vendor that is a professional seller or another private individual (consumer-to-consumer transactions are not covered by EU legislation)
  • An obligation on professional traders to provide information on who is responsible for delivery and returns
  • An obligation on platforms and marketplaces to inform consumers about how seller offers are ranked in search results and identify paid advertisements, when this is the case
  • An obligation on sellers for transparency on ‘tailored prices’ based on consumer location and behavioural profiling
  • An obligation on sellers to disclose how they operate price reductions, which must be referenced against the product’s regular price recorded within the previous 30 days
  • A ban on the resale of event tickets bought in bulk by professional traders that use online ‘bots’
  • Fines of up to 4% or €2million of a trader’s turnover for breaches of consumer rights
  • Tackling ‘dual quality’ products whereby branded goods sold as identical have different compositions in different Member States
  • A ban on manipulating or posting fake reviews or endorsements either directly or via third parties

Read the new consumer protection benefits applicable from May 2022 here:

Factsheet On Benefit Consumers En

Directives are supranational laws that set goals and minimum standards for EU Member States to implement. Governments of Member States will then introduce the main guidelines of the directives into national law. It is up to the individual countries to devise their own laws on how to reach these goals and implement the guidelines. A directive is a legal instrument of general application that is binding as to the result to be achieved, but which gives the Members States the freedom to devise the national laws that will help achieve the result. The main provisions of Directive 2019/2161, as above, will be transposed in Ireland through the Consumer Rights Bill 2022, with the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) responsible for enforcement. The CCPC however will have enhanced powers to uphold consumer rights, particularly where traders do not provide the remedies or reimbursement to which consumers are entitled under the future Consumer Rights Act 2022.

The European Consumer Centre Ireland will continue to assist Irish consumers with complaints against businesses based in the European Union.

 

Learn more on the new EU Directive and consumer rights in our radio interviews here