EU Commission wants stronger product safety, credit rules for consumers

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission on Wednesday proposed beefing up product safety and consumer credit rules for consumers, prompted by the surge in online shopping by people during COVID-19 lockdowns and the increasing digitalisation of everyday life.

Existing rules known as the General Product Safety Directive came into force in 2001 while rules on consumer credit to safeguard consumers were implemented in 2008.

The EU executive said 70% of consumers shopped online last year, with new technology products making up the bulk of their purchases.

“We are making it easier for consumers to avoid risks related to having a credit and we are putting even stronger rules for product safety in place,” Commission Vice President Vera Jourova said in a statement.

“It will also put more responsibility on market players and make it more difficult for bad actors to hide behind complicated legal jargon,” she said.

The proposals seek to address cybersecurity risks and require online marketplaces to adopt product safety rules.

The Commission also wants information related to credits to be presented in a clear way and adapted to digital devices to ensure that consumers understand what they are signing up for.

The Consumer Credit Directive should also reinforce rules regarding users’ creditworthiness to avoid the issue of over-indebtedness while EU countries will be asked to promote financial education and to ensure debt advice is made available.

“The COVID-19 crisis has impacted consumers in multiple ways and many have faced financial difficulties,” EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said.

The proposals will need to be discussed with EU countries and the European Parliament before they can come into force.

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