Research Handbooks in Law and Economics series
Edited by Thomas Eger and Hans-Bernd Schäfer
Fabrizio Cafaggi and Antonio Nicita* 1 INTRODUCTION Consumer protection law in Europe is not a clear or unique set of rules.1 Rather, it refers to a broad range of areas which focus on specific purposes covered by different legislations and regulations, such as unfair and deceptive advertising, outright fraud, consumer credit, warranty transactions, as well as consumers’ switching costs in network industries and so on. This wider production of rules is further complicated by the circumstance that European regulations have proceeded parallel to uncoordinated initiatives by national governments and parliaments. Today, a comprehensive multi-level approach to consumer law is still missing and the protection of consumers’ interests is fragmentated into many sectoral regulations, which nonetheless increasingly recur, in their regulatory design, to enforcement devices borrowed from other areas, such as contract law.2 The evolution of the European approach to consumer protection could be fixed by two milestone dates in 1975 and 1992.3 In 1975, the Council of the European Union issued a preliminary program for a consumer protection and information policy, by outlining five basic areas of consumer rights: (a) the right to protection of health and safety; (b) the right to protection of economic interests; (c) the right to redress; (d) the right to information and education; and (e) the right of representation (the right to be heard).4 In 1992, the Maastricht Treaty, amending the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community with a view to establishing the European Community, clearly stated, in Art. 3, that the activities of...
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