Modernisation of consumer rules

A new EU directive revises the consumer right rules that must now be transposed into the legislations of the individual member states. The duties of traders towards consumers have been extended, as have the sanctions for their violations.

Directive (EU) 2019/2161 on the better enforcement and modernisation of EU consumer protection rules is part of a New Deal for Consumers strengthening consumer rights with respect to digital technologies. It amends the four existing directives on consumer protection and expands certain definitions, such as online marketplaces and products that now also include digital services and digital content.

For example, the new regulation deals with the issue of artificially increasing reference prices during price reductions. Except for perishable goods, sellers will have to indicate as reference price the price applied within a period of at least 30 days preceding the price reduction announcement. Another issue the directive deals with are false consumer reviews. Under the new directive, operators will be responsible for their authenticity. The delivery of different-quality goods to different states will also be sanctioned unless the difference in quality is caused by objective factors and consumers are sufficiently informed of the fact. Consumers must also be provided with a sufficient explanation of the manner of ranking of the offers, especially as regards paid advertising. Online marketplace relationships must also be described in a transparent manner.

Consumers should also be clearly informed when the price presented to them has been personalised on the basis of automated decision-making, which is quite common in the sale of air and ride tickets, or when the price on a comparison website differs from the price available through a direct visit of a particular website. 

The new directive also amends the compensation of damage caused to consumers and the maximum amount of penalties: for a violation on an EU scale amounting to up to 4% of the annual turnover or EUR 2 million.

Member states must approve the rules before 28 November 2021 and start applying them from 28 May 2022.


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