On November 28, 2022, the European Commission launched a public consultation on whether the following three EU consumer laws remain adequate for ensuring a high level of consumer protection in the digital environment:
- the Consumer Rights Directive (Directive 2011/83/EU, as amended), which sets out the minimum information traders must provide to EU consumers and which offers consumers certain rights, such as the right to withdraw from a contract;
- the Unfair Contract Terms Directive (Directive 93/13/EEC, as amended), which prohibits terms in “standardized” (i.e., non-negotiable) business-to-consumer agreements that cause a significant imbalance between the parties rights and obligations to the detriment of consumers; and
- the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (Directive 2005/29/EC, as amended), which prohibits commercial practices considered unfair, for example, because they are misleading or aggressive.
The public consultation consists of filling out a short questionnaire, which needs to be submitted by February 20, 2023. It is aimed at stakeholders that operate in the digital environment, such as online platforms.
The three EU consumer laws were already amended in 2019 to adapt EU consumer protection legislation to the realities of the digital era, as well as to foster transparency and ensure effective enforcement of consumer protection laws (see our blog post).
The public consultation, however, was prompted by the forthcoming additional protections for consumers in the Digital Services Act, Digital Markets Act, Artificial Intelligence Act, and Data Act. The European Commission is evaluating whether it needs to also update the abovementioned EU consumer laws in light of these new laws.
Among other things, the consultation aims to assess whether the laws need to be updated in order to appropriately deal with dark patterns, personalization practices, influencer marketing, contract cancellations, subscription service contracts, marketing of virtual items (e.g. in video games), and the addictive use of digital products. Some of its questions also relate to the intersection between consumer law and data protection.
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Covington & Burling regularly advises companies on all aspects of EU consumer law, as well as intersections with privacy law. We are happy to assist you with any inquiries related to compliance with EU consumer law.