On 27 November 2006, the Parliament’s committee on internal market and consumer protection conducted Meglena Kuneva's hearing.
It began with an opening statement by the commissioner-designate and was followed by a question-and-answer session, during which MEPs tested Kuneva's qualifications on consumer protection portfolio.
"With the Lisbon agenda, the Barroso Commission has placed economy in the centre of its work. The Lisbon agenda can only happen if business has the trust of consumers," said Kuneva in her opening statement. "I want to have sustained dialogue with European consumers and the organisations which represent their interests. I also want to raise consumer issues more in the media," she added. She also called for empowering the existing consumer organisations with finance from national governments.
MEPs wanted to know how Kuneva planned to be "consumers' advocate" in the College, as she would join the Barroso Commission half way through its term. They also asked whether she saw the Lisbon strategy and competitiveness as being complementary to consumer protection, whether she planned to tackle issues such as obesity and smoking and to what degree national laws in the field of consumer protection should be harmonised. Other questions included how to boost consumer culture in eastern countries, whether the single market should be opened to gambling, and how to allow consumers to benefit from the financial services single market.
Kuneva explained that she wishes to make consumer protection more visible, together with other commissioners, as it is a "horizontal issue" and therefore complementary to other policies. She also pledged to promote quality consumer information so that responsibilty could be given to consumers. As to boosting consumer culture in eastern Europe, she wants consumers to restart dialogue with governments and to develop "self-confidence".
With regards the harmonisation of consumer-protection legislation, Kuneva said that the EU should apply, where possible, "a philosophy of maximum harmonisation".