ECC Ireland has recently kickstarted a project that provides a roadmap for our parent organisation ECC-Net’s future collaboration with international consumer protection organisations and stakeholders. In September 2021, our Director, Dr Cyril Sullivan, was a guest speaker at the 2021 Asian Forum on Consumer Policy organised by the Korea Fair Trade Commission, at the invitation of the South Korea Consumer Agency.
The virtual event with participants from consumer organisations from all over the world focused on sharing best practices in consumer protection and advocacy and included sessions on:
- Trends and emerging issues in consumer policy in the post-COVID-19 era
- Digital online platform and consumer protection
- Consumer safety and hazardous products sold online
- Strengthening cross-border enforcement cooperation during the pandemic
Dr Sullivan held a presentation on strengthening cross-border enforcement cooperation during the pandemic based on the experience of the European Consumer Centre Network, ECC Ireland’s parent organisation which involved:
- 70,000 Covid-19-related complaints
- 93% tourism-related and 45% air travel issues
- 68% resolved complaints
- €4,000,000 worth of refunds secured for European consumers
ECC Ireland’s contribution to the conference is part of a new international project which involves setting up a reciprocity mechanism of consumer dispute resolution between the EU’s Member States and selected jurisdictions in East Asia. ECC Ireland set the foundation for the ECC-Net’s collaboration with consumer protection agencies in South Korea and Japan, and will continue to build capacity to deliver our consumer services to non-EU consumers from these countries, and vice versa.
ECC Ireland will develop the project on behalf of the ECC-Net and aims to deliver:
- an EU-level level of cooperation in cross-border dispute resolution and consumer assistance policies with jurisdictions outside the EU, namely East Asia, in this case
- an EU-wide strategy development and coordination of future consumer policies that can ensure the extension of EU-standard consumer protections to trade and tourism partners from outside the EU
- implement common and mutually-beneficial communication activities targeting incoming non-EU and outgoing EU tourists
- a high level of reciprocity of practical consumer assistance services between the EU/EEA, as a whole, and a number of jurisdictions in East Asia in order to boost tourism and accelerate economic recovery in both regions.
The ECC-Net recognises the vast contribution of Asian consumers to the EU economy through trade and tourism, and wishes to extend its assistance and dispute resolution services to consumers from South Korea and Japan, in the first instance, and other countries in South Asia at a later stage. As the first step in this process, ECC Ireland concluded Memorandums of Understanding with the representative consumer organisations of South Korea and Japan in 2021.