Towards the green transition – strengthening consumers’ rights and fighting misleading practices
On 3 April, the European Commission (EC) opened a public consultation on its recently published proposal on Empowering consumers for the green transition.
As part of this initiative, the EC proposed to amend the Consumer Rights Directive to oblige traders to provide consumers with information on products' durability and reparability.
The proposal requires consumers to be informed about the guaranteed durability of products. In addition, the seller must inform the consumer if the producer of a good offers a commercial guarantee of durability of more than two years.
Regarding repairs and updates, the proposed amendments include an obligation for the seller to provide relevant information (e.g. reparability score). The EC’s proposal also foresees specific rules concerning information requirements on software updates for smart devices and, digital content and services.
Producers or sellers will then decide on the most appropriate way to share this information with the consumer (i.e. packaging or in the product description on the website).
In addition, the EC put forward several amendments to the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD).
First, the list of product characteristics on which a trader cannot mislead consumers was expanded to cover environmental or social impact, as well as durability and reparability. The proposed amendments also add new practices to be considered misleading after a case-by-case assessment.
Finally, the EU Executive intends to prohibit new unfair commercial practices, including:
Not disclosing information on features introduced to limit durability.
Making generic, vague environmental claims where the environmental performance of the product cannot be demonstrated (e.g. eco-friendly).
Making an environmental claim about the entire product when it really concerns only a certain aspect of the product.
Displaying a voluntary sustainability label which was not based on a third-party verification scheme or established by public authorities.
The public consultation is open for feedback from all interested stakeholders until 29 May 2022.
The Council and the European Parliament will then discuss the EC's proposals. Once adopted and transposed into Member States' national legislation, consumers will be entitled to remedies in the event of breaches, including through the collective redress procedure.
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