- EU networks
Consumer Protection Cooperation Network
National authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws across the European Union, Iceland and Norway assist each other in exchanging information and investigating possible breaches of consumer law to protect the collective interest of consumers.
The legal basis for the Network is Regulation 2006/2004 on cooperation between national authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws (the Regulation on Consumer Protection Cooperation).
The CPC concentrates on a variety of areas, such as:
- unfair commercial practices,
- distance selling,
- package travel,
- unfair contract terms,
- air passenger rights,
Apart from day-to-day enforcement actions and common projects, since 2007 members of the CPC have conducted 5 Internet sweeps coordinated by the European Commission. During these sweeps, national authorities searched websites offering products and services in three different sectors - airline tickets (2007), mobile phone services (2008) electronic goods (2009), online ticket sales (2010) and consumer credit (2011) to check if they provided all the required information to consumers in a clear and comprehensive way, and in a manner which does not mislead them. Following the sweeps, non-compliant traders have been requested to take corrective actions. Non-compliant traders could face sanctions or other enforcement measures.
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Providing information and support as consumers shop across the EU
The European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net) is a service with a human face providing consumers with information on their rights, and assistance with complaints on cross-border purchases within the EU.
In 2008, the European Consumer Centres handled over 62,000 contacts with consumers who turned to them for advice about their rights or for help with problems related to cross-border shopping. ECCs are in daily contact with consumers; help citizens use the rights that Community legislation gives them; and analyse jointly how key sectors work for consumers.
ECC-Net informs and handles complaints particularly in the following areas: air travel (cancellation or flight delays, lost luggage, etc), e-commerce, package travel, timeshare and holiday clubs, unfair terms of contracts, defective products or services, delays in delivery, etc. The ECCs services are free of charge.
The network consists of 29 European Consumer Centres (in all 27 Member States, Iceland and Norway), which work together to support consumers with a cross border complaint or dispute. Frequently, the ECC-Net helps consumers who have a complaint to reach an agreement via the Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanism (ADR). The ECC-Net cooperates with other EU-wide networks (e.g. the European Judicial Network for the implementation of civil and commercial law, SOLVIT on cases of misapplication of EU law by national authorities and FIN-Net, an out-of-court network for financial services).
ECCs conduct cross-border comparisons of prices, legislation and other issues of consumer concern and they provide the European Commission with important "grassroots" information on consumers concerns (analysis of consumers complaints on e-commerce, air transport, non delivery of goods, timeshares, holidays clubs, car rental contracts, etc.).
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FIAGC is a multilateral forum devoted to the analysis and discussion of the public policy of consumer protection, formed by the governmental agencies of Latin America, Spain, and Portugal. The objective of FIAGC is to promote the cooperation among members, through the exchange of information and experiences in all those topics of common interest to perform with efficiency when developing and applying public policies for consumer protection.
FIAGC has the following members: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Spain, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Uruguay. It also has two observers: Consumers International, and the United States of America.
The majority of the work takes place in working groups on consumer education, unfair advertising, class actions, and air travel.
The Central American Council of Consumer Protection was established with the mandate to promote consumer protection and harmonize policies in Central America. The aim of the Council is also to share information about cross-border commercial activities that may affect consumer interests, and to encourage international cooperation among law enforcement agencies as well as regulatory bodies in different sectors, consumer associations and academia. The network operates under a rotating presidency.
CONCADECO handles technical and financial resources for international cooperation to develop regional projects and relationships with other institutions of the Central American Integration System (SICA) which has the following members: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. Dominican Republic is associated. It also has three observers: Spain, Mexico, and China.
The Caribbean Consumer Council is a regional umbrella body involving consumer protection agencies and national NGOs from Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica, Suriname, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis.
The aim of CCC is to encourage the development of the consumer movement generally throughout the region. The other objectives include developing the necessary infrastructure to provide information to its members about frauds, false advertising, harm ful or defective products. CCC undertakes various initiatives and research projects to benefit consumer agencies in the region.
The ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Consumer Protection (ACCCP) promotes consumer protection in Southeast Asia. Among the initiative’s objective are:
- providing consumers with proper information and redress;
- stopping rogue traders and unfair commercial practices;
- ensuring that only safe products are placed in the market.
The goal of consumer protection against substandard products and unethical and unfair trading is achieved by networking and information-sharing by representatives from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Indonesia, Laos, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. These participants seek to create a cross-border redress system to advise and assist with the resolution of consumer claims, and a rapid alert system on hazardous consumer products to inform member states of banned, restricted, or recalled goods.
The Consumer Forum of East Asia Nations is an international platform which holds the consultative meetings on consumer policy among China, Japan and Korea on a biennial basis including exchanging information on policies, regulations and other consumer-related issues.
By cooperation between the consumer policy authorities in three Northeast Asian countries the mutual understanding on consumer policy direction and well as joint enforcement is achieved.
The envisaged plans of the Consumer Forum of East Asia Nations include operating a cross-border dispute resolution system, establishing an exchange system on consumer safety, as well as discussing common mandatory labeling requirements.