DSE Conference Summary: A Safe Consumer is a Confident Consumer

Jeudi, 13 Octobre, 2011

Representatives from the European Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission as well as from relevant trade associations attended Direct Selling Europe's first semi-annual conference entitled Direct Selling and the Future of Consumer Protection in the European Union at the Solvay Library in Brussels. Keynote Speaker Dr. Andreas Schwab (MEP - EPP), focused primarily on the importance of the Consumer Rights Directive (passed in council 10 October 2011) by underlining that for the EU, the purpose of the Consumer Rights Directive to "achieve consistent rules for distance and direct selling contracts and a balanced level of consumer protection" had been reached with the final compromise text.

Also across the panel discussion on the optional instrument on contract law, sentiment was also very positive towards recent EU consumer protection developments. Ms. Pachl (BEUC) underlined the point made by Dr. Schwab when she said that, "the CRD is indeed a step forward for consumer protection in the EU."

On the optional instrument on contract law Ms. Michou (European Commission-DG Justice) and Mr. Clausnitzer (BDD - German Direct Selling Association) echoed the ideas expressed by the other panelists Dr. Schwab and Ms. Pachl, and stressed the potential effectiveness of harmonized EU contract law for business to business contracts. They voiced concerns on business to consumer contracts saying that it would be difficult for consumers and companies to deal with two different sets of rules. Both also noted that present developments regarding consumer protection legislation must continue in this positive direction to being conducive to the sustainability of the single internal market, the preservation of consumer safety and the facilitation of business practices.

Following a question from panel moderator Tom Pauly (Tupperware), Ms. Michou underlined that of course the optional instrument on contract law would not reopen issues that have been laid down in the Consumer Rights Directive and that these 2 documents will be perfectly aligned to the CRD on common points. She also indicated that a first draft text for the optional instrument on contract law would be published before 1 October 2011.

The Conference also brought to light issues around Collective Redress where panelists collectively cautioned against the dangers of misuse and accelerated litigation.

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