The battle for EU consumer rights


The EU's new Consumer Rights Directive is designed to drag consumer rights legislation into the 21st Century by creating legal certainty for businesses and better protecting online shoppers in particular. But EU policymakers are currently at loggerheads over the scope of the draft law. 

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Draft proposals for a new Consumer Rights Directive, first tabled by the European Commission in October 2008, seek to merge the existing four EU consumer rights directives into one set of fully harmonised rules (EurActiv 08/10/08; EurActiv 10/10/08).

The proposed directive concerns business-to-consumer (B2C) sales contracts for goods and services and specifically covers issues such as pre-contractual information, delivery rules, 'cooling off' periods for distance sales, repairs, replacements and guarantees as well as new selling technologies.

The new law is designed to bring consumer rights into the 21st Century, in particular by taking account of online sales. But the matter is proving extremely divisive.