Bonjour à toutes et tous,
L'année écoulée a été un véritable test de résistance pour chacun d'entre nous.
Si la pandémie a démontré la solidité et l'utilité de l'action de l'Union européenne dans son ensemble, elle a également souligné quelques lacunes dans certains domaines de compétences de l'Union européenne.
Les politiques européennes en matière de protection des consommateurs n'ont pas fait exception à la règle.
Même si les règles européennes dans ce domaine restent les plus ambitieuses dans le monde, des améliorations sont encore possibles.
L'année dernière, avec l'adoption du nouvel « Agenda Consommateur », la Commission s'est engagée à relever les nouveaux défis en matière de droits des consommateurs, tels que la transition verte ou la numérisation. Nous avons proposé une liste d'actions pour donner les moyens aux consommateurs de jouer un rôle actif.
Les deux propositions législatives aujourd'hui répondent à cet engagement.
La première proposition vise à actualiser la législation relative à la sécurité des produits et la seconde porte sur les crédits.
Nous devons faire face à de nouvelles tendances :
La numérisation, avec de nouveaux produits connectés et des crédits en ligne.
Les nouvelles pratiques développées pendant la pandémie avec une offre massive de produits trompeurs et dangereux, et parfois avec un lourd impact sur la situation financière des consommateurs.
First, concretely on the consumer credit directive :
The revision of this directive aims to offer better protection to consumers while at the same time creating more harmonised conditions for businesses offering credit.
Digitalisation impacts heavily the market of consumer credits and requires new rules:
To that end, the new directive will cover a wider range of products on the market to ensure the protection of consumers taking out credits currently exempted which are potentially risky.
For instance, risky loans like small value loans of less than 200 EUR will also be covered by the new directive.
The protection of borrowers taking out credit through peer-to-peer lending platforms will also be guaranteed.
The new directive will ensure that information provided to consumers is clear, including when it is shared via digital channels.
When looking for a credit, consumers will be able to see all the information they need to understand the main features of the credit and compare offers at a glance.
At the same time, the amount of information provided in advertisements on certain channels, such as the radio, will be reduced to avoid information overload.
In addition, the proposal also incorporates important experiences from the current pandemic:
Stricter rules on creditworthiness assessment will give consumers better protection against over-indebtedness.
New provisions such as financial education and debt advice will empower and support consumers, including financially vulnerable ones. It will also benefit creditors, having more chance to get the money back, and the society as a whole.
Today, we are also proposing to promote a Single market of consumer credits: it is still rare at this moment that consumer credits are taken across the border in the Union, but we aim to facilitate the emergence of a well-functioning single market in this sector.
Digitalisation will contribute to accelerate this change. We see an increasing numbers of new players online starting offering credits within and outside the Union (such as online marketplaces).
As I mentioned, today we are proposing as well a new General Product Safety Regulation.
It will replace the existing General Product Safety Directive and will turn it into a Regulation.
The current Directive on general product safety has proven to be an essential tool to protect EU consumers against dangerous products.
This Directive is now 20 years old, and a revision was necessary and long awaited by both consumers and businesses.
We need improve the rules and the control of online sales channels and in particular the traffic of unsafe products on online platforms.
In that context, it was critical to ensure that this new Regulation fully builds on the horizontal approach of the Digital Services Act.
We ensured that it remains consistent with the DSA and at the same time delivers on the specific needs of product safety, by adding specific obligations. This was also a concern of the European Parliament that we made sure to address in our proposal.
Consumers must be protected against dangerous products whether they shop online or offline, whether on an online shopping platform or from the corner shop.
And, especially now that more and more products from outside the EU are sold on many online marketplaces, directly to EU consumers.
The detriment suffered by EU consumers and society due to accidents caused by dangerous products is estimated at EUR 11.5 billion per year.
Consumers waste EUR 19.3 billion per year buying unsafe products.
With the new General Product Safety Regulation, I trust that costs incurred by consumers should drop significantly.
This waste of money and damage should be prevented.
The Regulation also provides a more efficient system of recalls of dangerous products from consumers to ensure that no dangerous product remains in the hand of consumers.
The proposal improves direct communication to customers, makes the recall announcements clearer and prohibits the use of terms that would decrease the consumer's perception of the risk.
Let us also not forget businesses either, as many of them were exposed to heavy financial losses in the past year.
The General Product Safety Regulation aims to level up the playing field for businesses operating in the EU.
Product safety should be a common standard for all companies selling to Europeans consumers.
To that end, the new Regulation will provide better enforcement with clearer rules for businesses to follow.
With today's proposals, enhance market surveillance rules and strengthen the synergies between the general rules on product safety and the corresponding rules in the area of harmonised legislation.
All in all, it should make it easier for consumers and businesses to recover from the crisis and build on a new environment for consumers.