Increasing Consumer Rights and Protection in the Green and Digital Transition: Priorities of the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU

 Rafael Escudero, General Secretary of Consumer and Gaming at the Ministry of Consumption, presented today before the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection of the European Parliament (IMCO) the priorities of the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU for the year 2023 in the field of consumer protection.
Escudero emphasized the importance of enhancing the rights and protection of consumers, especially the most vulnerable, in the context of the transition towards a more sustainable and digital economy. He argued that the European Union is not only called upon to be a significant actor in finding joint solutions and making commitments, but also needs to reconsider its own major policy directions and ambitions for the future.

According to Escudero, it is of paramount importance to transform everyday habits with economic, social, and environmental impacts, empower consumers to play an active role in their consumption relationships, and move towards more sustainable models.

In this regard, and in line with the New Consumer Agenda 2020-2025, Spain will strengthen the protection of the most vulnerable groups (understood broadly to include factors such as age or cognitive abilities) and promote their active role in transforming the production and consumption system. This will be achieved by promoting product repairability and combating premature obsolescence.

Additionally, under the mandate of the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU, there will be a reinforcement of the One Health approach (individual and planetary health) to advance towards more sustainable and healthy consumption patterns, as well as efforts to adapt consumer regulations to the digital transformation.

"Ensuring that European legislation in the field of consumption adapts to the new challenges posed by both the digital world and the fourth industrial revolution will be of particular relevance during the Spanish Presidency to ensure consumer protection at all times," emphasized Escudero.

Based on these strategic objectives, the Ministry of Consumption will drive various legislative initiatives during the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU. The first of these, focused on empowering consumers in the ecological transition for better information and protection against unfair practices, is expected to conclude negotiations with the European Parliament soon.

The goal is to enable consumers to make informed purchasing decisions based on reliable information and thus contribute to more sustainable consumption. The European directive also aims to provide saving opportunities for consumers through greater participation in the circular economy and combating unfair commercial practices.

For this reason, better information about the durability and repairability of consumer goods will be provided, and the marketing of more durable and higher-quality products will be promoted, among other measures.

During the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU, the Ministry of Consumption will also promote the advancement of the directive on common standards for ensuring "the right to repair," with the aim of obtaining a mandate from the Council and initiating negotiations in Parliament. The purpose of this regulation is to offer incentives and tools that extend the lifespan of consumer goods and increase demand for more sustainable business models.

Furthermore, to promote a more ecological and circular economy in which consumers take center stage, Spain will present a proposal to protect them from "greenwashing," also known as greenwashing. "We want consumers to be able to accelerate the ecological transition by making purchasing decisions based on environmentally reliable claims and labels," emphasized the General Secretary of Consumer and Gaming, Escudero.

Finally, Escudero explained that the directive on toy safety will be reviewed to achieve the highest level of protection possible before their commercialization in the EU (mainly regarding the risks posed by harmful chemical substances), and negotiations on the regulation that aims to provide a common system for compensating European consumers for potential damages caused by defective products will continue.
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