Research Handbooks in European Law series
Edited by Christian Twigg-Flesner
Chapter 18: Consumer law enforcement and access to justice
The European consumer acquis has been built on the assumption that it is in the interests of European consumers that laws are harmonised or even made identical. The desired effects are that consumers will have the confidence to seek out the best deals in any Member State and that businesses are willing to trade across borders, competition will thus increase and consumers will indirectly gain as a result. This rhetoric is very evident in the on-going consumer sales law debate. Whether the legal rules are really the obstacle to increased Community trade is a debated point, which will not be dwelt on in this context. What does, however, seem to be missing from the European Commission's argument is any explicit warning to consumers about the risks of cross-border shopping. Of course as the Commission's objective is to promote such activity it is not surprising that it might wish to play down the risks. Nevertheless, it has taken several steps to mitigate the risks, and these measures are the subject of this chapter. Where the result of harmonisation is that traders feel comfortable establishing themselves in more Member States, consumers face no additional risks created by the internal market. The trading practices and contracts entered into are regulated at national level in the same way as any other domestic contracts.
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