European Community Consumer Protection Law

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General Enrollment Course
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Course Description

From the consumer’s point of view the introduction of the Euro and the market liberalization with cross-border competition brought with it not only great opportunities but also risks. An effective protection of the consumer demands a European consumer policy, which corresponds with the realization of a European Internal Market. Although the founding treaties of the European Community did not include a separate policy chapter on consumer protection, the European Commission has taken the subject on its agenda already in the 1970’s and has been elaborating it since then. But it was as late as 1993, on the entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty, that an explicit legislative competence was finally conferred on the EC. Today, according to Art. 153 of the EC-Treaty the European Commission shall contribute to protecting the health, safety and economic interests of consumers, as well as to promoting their right to information, education and to organize themselves in order to ensure a high level of consumer protection. This course aims at analyzing the development of the consumer protection policy of the European Community and at introducing the main legislative outcome of the last 20 years in the area of safeguarding consumers’ economic interests. The areas of activity have so far focused on protection against several market practices (e.g. misleading advertising, unfair commercial practices, distance marketing, door-to-door marketing); protection in the area of contract law (e.g. sale, consumer credit, package tour) and product safety and liability. The classes will zoom in on the respective Directives of the EC and their national implementation measures. The jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) regarding these Directives and their effect on the development of the European consumer policy will also be evaluated. The course will end with the appraisal of the efforts in the EC to review the consumer acquis and their relation with the forming of a “European Contract Law”, a topic on the agenda of the EC Commission since the publishing of the Action Plan on Contract Law in 2001.