Commission proposes rules on mortgages to ensure better protection for borrowers

The European Commission has put forward a legislative proposal showing its determination to ensure that irresponsible lending and borrowing practices are not repeated in the future, and to help consumers to regain confidence in the financial system. According to this new regulation, borrowers will enjoy a higher level of protection through robust rules concerning advertising, pre-contractual information, advice, creditworthiness assessment, and early repayment. The proposed Directive also aims to create a more efficient and competitive single market for mortgages by creating a level playing field for all actors involved and making cross-border activity easier.

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Parliament and Council fail to reach an agreement on conciliation on novel food

Further to the failure of conversations between the Parliament and the Council on updating the Novel Foods Regulation on 16 March 2011, the institutions had a last change to reach an agreement on the evening of 28 March. However, in spite of the efforts made by the Hungarian Presidency, this agreement has not been possible and the EU stays with the status quo, where legislation provides that food from cloned animals is subject to a pre-market authorisation.

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Parliament will seek agreement with the Council on Directive for online consumer protection

During the European Parliament plenary session held in Brussels between 23 and 24 March, MEPs introduced a series of amendments to Commission's proposal for a Directive protecting online consumers rights. MEPs backed a series of new rules to protect online shoppers and boost consumer confidence in buying in other Member States, and decided to postpone their final position with a view to reaching an agreement with the Council.

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Parliament amends draft text on textile labelling and calls for compulsory “made in” label

The European Parliament Internal Market Committee agreed on 22 March that country of origin labels should be made mandatory for textiles imported from third countries and sold in the EU. This amendment to the new draft on textile labelling, which would provide for consumers not to be misled, would be compulsory for products from third countries and voluntary for EU products.

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World Consumer Rights Day 2011, making efforts for fairer financial services “from the stock exchange floor to the board …

Celebrating the World Consumer Rights Day on 15 March, the global federation of consumer groups Consumers International has decided to focus this year's campaign in calling for fairer financial services. The European Commission, which fully supports this objective, is acting on all fronts to give EU consumers a fairer deal in financial services.

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EC Scoreboard shows consumer conditions are recovering but cross-border e-commerce remains backward

The spring Consumer Scoreboard published by the European Commission shows a clear recovery in consumer conditions in nearly all EU countries after the steep decline in 2009. The annual index of consumer conditions is measured e.g. by consumer trust in authorities, NGOs and retailers and the effectiveness of handling disputes.

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EU Court of Justice declares gender considerations in insurance contracts as discriminatory

In a judgement issued by the Court of Justice of the European Union on 1 March 2011, the Court considers that the considerations made in terms of gender of the insured individual as a risk factor in insurance contracts, constitute discrimination according to EU law. Following this Court decision, the rule of unisex premiums and benefits in insurance contracts will apply with effect from 21 December 2012.

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Commission's proposal to link business registers across Europe will boost cross-border trade

The European Commission has adopted on 25 February a proposal to interconnect business registers within the EU, which aims to facilitate cross-border electronic access to business information, by ensuring business registers are updated, and business information is more easily and readily accessible.  These changes are crucial for companies when setting up branches, conducting cross-border trade or providing cross-border services in the EU.

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EP approves Directive against fake medicines and protects patients from dangerous effects

During the European Parliament plenary session held in Strasbourg on 16 February, MEPs gave green light to the proposed Directive to prevent fake medicines from entering the legal supply chain. Under these new rules, manufacturers will have to include new safety features on the packages and new rules will apply to on-line sales, as well as to distributors and intermediaries.

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