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Friday, 19 September 2008

EU Choking on its Own Consumer Law


Having committed rather too late to the principles of "better regulation", it's only right that the European Commission should now seem to be choking on the dog's breakfast of consumer laws it has served up over the past 13 years (bearing in mind it takes 5 years to pass an EU directive).

Officials are reforming a plethora of electronic communications directives, and reviewing the 8 directives that make up what is (weirdly) known as the "Consumer Acquis" (which for some reason excludes the constant review of the E-commerce Directive). And, of course, it's overseeing the implementation of the Audio Visual Media Services Directive which overhauled EU television regulation in December '07.

With any luck, the Commission might realise how truly gargantuan a meal this has been for the average European citizen or small business to digest, let alone for the lawyers who have to produce bite size summaries for the busy executive's bin.

Has all this amounted to the catalyst for a cross-border consumer market that the Commission hyped, sorry, hoped? Not according to the Commission's own research. Nor could it, for the practical reasons previously mentioned. There is a facilitative role that the Commission can play, but that involves understanding the problems, their root causes and potential solutions before regulating.

More in this vein next Monday/Tuesday at the SCL's Annual Policy Forum!
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