EU to probe Internet, meat markets

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Following a survey of 50 key markets for consumer goods and services, the European Commission has discovered that EU citizens have the least trust in meat and Internet service provision.

An in-depth investigation into the two markets will be opened shortly to help the Commission to understand the reasons behind the findings and identify potential policy remedies.

The EU executive will collect in-depth data on consumers' experiences and opinions of the chosen markets, record consumers' actual experiences on the market and conduct detailed price collection.

Meat was chosen for the in-depth investigation because it is "a frequently purchased product which makes up a large part of consumers' budgets" and because it scored relatively poorly on consumer trust despite being highly regulated.

The study will look at pricing, food security, the environment and animal well-being, the Commission said.

Internet

Meanwhile, Internet service provision is the market in which the highest number of consumers have experienced problems and where prices diverge widely across the EU.

The EU executive said that Internet access is essential "to ensure citizens can be part of and operate in the digital environment, for the empowerment of EU consumers and for the Digital Single Market".

Aside from Internet service provision, the autumn 2010 Consumer Markets Scoreboard, published on Friday (22 October), shows that pension securities and real estate services are the two markets that are most likely to fail consumers across the EU.

On goods markets, second-hand cars, clothing and footwear scored lowest after meat.

At the other end of the scale, EU citizens showed the highest levels of satisfaction with books, magazines and newspapers, closely followed by personal care, cultural services, bread and beverages.

The EU-wide ranking of markets is based on the Market Performance Indicator (MPI). Any given score is made up of elements such as price, overall satisfaction, the comparability of goods or services, consumer trust in retailers and problems such as complaints and the ease of switching providers.

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