Consumers can collectively sue companies for mass damage

MEPs: Unsafe products should be removed from the EU market, buyers to have a “right to repair”

Photo: EP Geoffroy Didier.

During the EP session, lawmakers approved several pieces of legislation and resolutions with particular focus on consumer protection. Indicative in this respect is the adoption of the first EU-wide rules on collective redress for consumers.

Consumers in Europe will be able to collectively sue companies and thus will be better protected against mass harm situations triggered by scandals such as the recent Dieselgate.

Rapporteur Geoffroy Didier, French MEP from EPP Group insisted on achieving a fair balance between the interests of consumers and businesses while avoiding the risk of US-style class actions.

At each stage of the negotiations, I have been keen to listen to everyone and to strike a balance between legitimate increased consumer protection and the need for legal certainty for businesses, commented Didier, who was also the Parliament's negotiator for the Collective Redress Directive.

According to the adopted rules, only qualified entities, such as consumer organisations and independent public bodies, designated by EU countries rendering strict criteria, including their non-profit character, can bring representative actions for redress.

As to avoid abusive lawsuits, MEPs introduced the 'loser pays principle' and insisted that courts or administrative authorities might decide to dismiss manifestly unfounded cases.

The adoption of the directive is confirming the political agreement reached by EP negotiators and EU ministers in June this year. EU countries will have 24 months to transpose the Directive into their national laws once it is published in the Official Journal of the EU.

Also in the consumers domain, the Parliament adopted a resolution on a more sustainable Single Market for encouraging sustainable consumer choices. It promotes a culture of reuse and repair by tackling practices that shorten the lifespan of products.

Lawmakers called on the Commission to grant consumers a “right to repair” by making repairs more appealing, systematic and cost-efficient, whether by extending guarantees, providing guarantees for replaced parts, or better access to information on repair and maintenance.

MEPs insist on increasing support for second-hand goods markets, call for measures to tackle practices that shorten the lifetime of a product, and endorse sustainable production.

They also reiterated their demand for a common charger system to reduce electronic waste and want products to be labelled according to their durability.

The time has come to use the Green Deal objectives as the foundation of a single market that promotes durable products and services by design, stated rapporteur David Cormand, French MEP from Greens/EFA.

With an overwhelming majority, the Parliament adopted a resolution, authored by German EPP MEP Marion Walsmann, on product safety in the Single Market that calls for greater efforts to remove unsafe products from the EU market and to adapt product safety rules to the digital age.

Existing product safety rules have to be made fit for the digital age, since products with emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence embedded in them challenge these rules, rapporteur Walsmann said.

MEPs highlighted that all products - no matter in which part of the world they are manufactured - circulating within the EU, must comply with product safety rules. These rules have to assure fairer competition between companies, guarantee traceability and provide reliable product information to consumers.

They urged online platforms and marketplaces to take proactive measures to tackle misleading practices.

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