Commission's new plans to tackle aggressive commercial practices across the EU

The European Commission presented a new strategy to fight against aggressive commercial practices across the EU to step up enforcement of the rules to increase citizens' trust when shopping in Europe’s internal market.

The European Commission revised the reviewed the application of Directive 2005/29/EC on Unfair Commercial Practices and announced plans to step up enforcement of the rules. In particular, measures are addressed to tackle aggressive commercial practices across the EU such as fake ‘free’ offers, ‘bait and switch’ advertising for products which cannot be supplied, and exhortation of children. In August 2011, the Commission launched an online database to make legal data on unfair commercial practices available.

The Commission will therefore seek to play a more prominent role in reinforcing cooperation between national enforcement bodies by strengthening the efficiency of the European consumer protection network and further promoting coordinated enforcement actions ("sweeps"); Assisting Member States in effectively applying the Directive with guidance and sharing best practices; Developing enforcement indicators to detect shortcomings and failures that require further investigative and/or corrective action; Establishing regular thematic workshops between national enforcers and organising training for enforcers and the judiciary.

According to the Commission, four out of five EU online consumers used a price comparison website in 2010. However, such tools can only help to boost consumer confidence if they provide clear and accurate information – which is not necessarily the case today. What's more, recurring issues or emerging commercial practices, such as those taking place in the on-line environment, often have a cross-border dimension and raise common questions for national enforcers. The Commission stressed that this calls for a more coherent approach to enforcement.