EU Consumer Law and Policy

EU Consumer Law and Policy

Second Edition

Elgar European Law series

Stephen Weatherill

This new edition of Stephen Weatherill’s acclaimed book provides a comprehensive introduction to all facets of the EU’s involvement in consumer law and policy. Consumers are expected to benefit from the EU’s project of economic integration, enjoying wider choice and improved quality, and yet they need protection from the dangers that flow from malfunctioning and unfair markets. The EU’s consumer law and policy is an attempt to have the best of both worlds – a liberalised yet properly regulated trading space for Europe.

Chapter 3: The law and practice of harmonisation

Stephen Weatherill

Subjects: law - academic, consumer law, european law


It was explained in Chapter 1 that the bulk of the material which is treated in this book as ‘EU consumer policy’ has its source in the EU’s programme of legislative harmonisation. The purpose of Chapter 1 was to place that important strand in the evolution of EU consumer policy in its proper wider context. The entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty in 1993 was the landmark date for the explicit formal recognition of consumer protection as an EU competence (now found in Article 169 TFEU), but not only before, but also after, that date the EU’s legislative track record relevant to the consumer has been predominantly composed of the harmonisation of national laws of consumer protection. The purpose of this chapter is to focus more closely on some of the ambiguities and controversies that attend the crafting of a programme of consumer protection in the name of market-making harmonisation. These concern issues relevant to the quality of the legislative acquis as well as the deeper constitutional questions about whether what has been done is truly legally valid. It also addresses the increasingly contested debate about what should be the effect of EU legislative harmonisation on residual national competence in the area occupied by the EU measure – the choice between minimum or maximum harmonisation.

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