The multiannual Consumer Programme for the years 2014-2020 intends to ensure a high level of consumer protection, to empower consumers and to place the consumer at the heart of the internal market.
The programme pursues the followinf objectives:
(a) Objective I — Safety: to consolidate and enhance product safety through effective market surveillance throughout the Union.
This objective will be measured in particular through the activity and effectiveness of the EU rapid alert system for dangerous consumer products (RAPEX).
(b) Objective II — Consumer information and education, and support to consumer organisations: to improve consumers’ education, information and awareness of their rights, to develop the evidence base for consumer policy and to provide support to consumer organisations, including taking into account the specific needs of vulnerable consumers.
(c) Objective III — Rights and redress: to develop and reinforce consumer rights in particular through smart regulatory action and improving access to simple, efficient, expedient and low-cost redress including alternative dispute resolution.
(d) Objective IV — Enforcement: to support enforcement of consumer rights by strengthening cooperation between national enforcement bodies and by supporting consumers with advice.
The specific objectives referred to in Article 3 shall be achieved by means of the eligible actions set out in the following list:
(a) under objective I — Safety:
(1) scientific advice and risk analysis relevant to consumer health and safety regarding non-food products and services including support for the tasks of the independent scientific committees established by Commission Decision 2008/721/EC;
(2) coordination of market surveillance and enforcement actions on product safety with regard to Directive 2001/95/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, and actions to improve consumer services safety;
(3) maintenance and further development of databases on cosmetics;
(b) under objective II — Consumer information and education, and support to consumer organisations:
(4) building and improving access to the evidence base for policy-making in areas affecting consumers, for designing smart and targeted regulations and for detecting any market malfunctioning or changes in consumers’ needs, providing a basis for the development of consumer policy, for the identification of the areas most problematic for consumers and for the integration of consumer interests into other Union policies;
(5) support through financing of Union-level consumer organisations and through capacity building for consumer organisations at Union, national and regional level, increasing transparency and stepping up exchanges of best practices and expertise;
(6) enhancing the transparency of consumer markets and consumer information, ensuring consumers have comparable, reliable and easily accessible data, including for cross-border cases, to help them compare not only prices, but also quality and sustainability of goods and services;
(7) enhancing consumer education as a life-long process, with a particular focus on vulnerable consumers;
(c) under objective III — Rights and redress:
(8) preparation by the Commission of consumer protection legislation and other regulatory initiatives, monitoring the transposition by Member States and the subsequent evaluation of its impact, and the promotion of co-regulatory and self-regulatory initiatives and monitoring the real impact of those initiatives on consumer markets;
(9) facilitating access to dispute resolution mechanisms for consumers, in particular to alternative dispute resolution schemes, including through a Union-wide online system and the networking of national alternative dispute resolution entities, paying specific attention to adequate measures for vulnerable consumers’ needs and rights; monitoring of the functioning and the effectiveness of dispute resolution mechanisms for consumers, including through the development and maintenance of relevant IT tools, and the exchange of current best practices and experience in the Member States;
(d) under objective IV — Enforcement:
(10) coordination of surveillance and enforcement actions with regard to Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council;
(11) financial contributions for joint actions with public or non-profit bodies constituting Union networks which provide information and assistance to consumers to help them exercise their rights and obtain access to appropriate dispute resolution, including out of court online resolution schemes (the European Consumer Centres Network).
Beneficiaries eligible for grants
1. Grants for the functioning of consumer organisations at Union level may be awarded to European consumer organisations which comply with all of the following conditions:
(a) they are non-governmental, non-profit-making, independent of industry, commercial and business or other conflicting interests, and have as their primary objectives and activities the promotion and protection of the health, safety, economic and legal interests of consumers in the Union;
(b) they are mandated to represent the interests of consumers at Union level by organisations in at least half of the Member States that are representative, in accordance with national rules or practice, of consumers, and that are active at regional or national level.
2. Grants for the functioning of international bodies promoting principles and policies which contribute to the objectives of the Programme may be awarded to organisations which comply with all of the following conditions:
(a) they are non-governmental, non-profit-making, independent of industry, commercial and business or other conflicting interests, and have as their primary objectives and activities the promotion and protection of the health, safety, economic and legal interests of consumers;
(b) they carry out all of the following activities: provide for a formal mechanism for consumer representatives from the Union and third countries to contribute to political discussions and policies, organise meetings with policy officials and regulators to promote and advocate consumer interests with public authorities, identify common consumer issues and challenges, promote consumer views in the context of bilateral relations between the Union and third countries, contribute to the exchange and dissemination of expertise and knowledge on consumer issues in the Union and third countries, and produce policy recommendations.
3. Grants for the functioning of Union-level bodies established for the coordination of enforcement actions in the field of product safety may be awarded to bodies recognised for this purpose by Union legislation.
4. Grants for action to Union-wide bodies for the development of codes of conduct, best practices and guidelines for price, product quality and sustainability comparison may be awarded to bodies which comply with all of the following conditions:
(a) they are non-governmental, non-profit-making, independent of industry, commercial and business or other conflicting interests, and have amongst their primary objectives and activities the promotion and protection of consumer interests;
(b) they are active in at least half of the Member States.
5. Grants for the organisation of Presidency events concerning consumer policy of the Union may be awarded to national authorities of the Member State holding the Presidency of Council configurations, other than that of Foreign Affairs or to bodies designated by that Member State.
6. Grants for action to Member States’ authorities responsible for consumer affairs and to corresponding authorities of third countries may be awarded to authorities notified to the Commission in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 or Directive 2001/95/EC by a Member State or by a third country referred to in Article 7 of this Regulation, or to non-profit-making bodies expressly designated by those authorities for that purpose.
7. Grants to enforcement officials from Member States and third countries may be awarded to officials from authorities notified to the Commission for the purposes of Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 and of Directive 2001/95/EC by a Member State or by a third country referred to in Article 7 of this Regulation.
8. Grants for action may be awarded to a body designated by a Member State or a third country referred to in Article 7 which is a non-profit-making body selected through a transparent procedure or a public body. The designated body shall be part of a Union network which provides information and assistance to consumers to help them exercise their rights and obtain access to appropriate dispute resolution (European Consumer Centres Network). A framework partnership may be established as a long-term cooperation mechanism between the Commission and the European Consumer Centres Network and/or its constitutive bodies.
9. Grants for action may be awarded to complaint handling bodies established and operating in the Member States of the Union and in countries of the European Free Trade Association participating in the European Economic Area, which are responsible for collecting consumer complaints, or attempting to resolve complaints, or giving advice, or providing information to consumers about complaints or enquiries, and which are a third party to a complaint or enquiry by a consumer about a trader. They shall not include consumer complaint handling mechanisms operated by traders and dealing with enquiries and complaints directly with the consumer or mechanisms providing complaint handling services operated by or on behalf of a trader.
The financial envelope for the implementation of the Programme for the period from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2020 shall be EUR 188 829 000 in current prices.