EP tackles out-of-court settlement of consumer disputes

EP adopts resolution on out-of-court settlement of consumer disputes calling on the Commission to ensure better co-ordination of all involved parties as well as a better flow of information in the European Extra-Judicial Network (EEJ-NET).

The own-initiative report from Mrs Wallis for the Legal Affairs Committee suggests ways of improving the Commission's working paper on the creation of a European Extra-Judicial Network (EEJ Net).

The resolution calls on the Commission to ensure better co-ordination of all involved parties as well as a better flow of information to, and involvement of, the European Parliament. It adds that the clearing houses which would act as central contact points in each member state must be in a position to give reliable preliminary legal advice. The committee stresses that consumers should be allowed to use their own language and that complaint forms should be clear and simple.

 

The European Parliament on 4 July 2001 adopted a resolution concerning action taken on the Community policy on out-of-court settlement of consumer disputes.

 

In 1998, the Commission adopted a Communication on the out-of-court settlement of consumer disputes and a Recommendation on the principles applicable to the bodies responsible for out-of-court settlement of consumer disputes. It soon became apparent that there were a number of practical obstacles to the operation of the network of bodies as envisaged in the 1998 Recommendation. In order to overcome these obstacles, the Commission refined its approach and in a working document in 2000 suggested the creation of central contact points in each Member States, a European Extra-Judicial Network (EEJ-NET).

In February 2001 the Commission launched FIN-NET, an out-of-court complaints network for both on- and off-line financial services. Its aim is to boost consumer confidence in the Internal Market by providing fast and efficient dispute resolution and avoiding, where possible, lengthy and expensive legal action. It gives consumers access to out-of-court redress, even if suppliers and consumers are from different countries.

 

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