Chapter 1: The evolution of consumer policy in the European Union
This challenging observation remains as pertinent today as when it was written, more than 25 years and five formal revisions of the founding Treaties ago. Why should there be a consumer policy at EU level? Is not the quest to create a more efficient, competitive, border-free economy for Europe itself amply beneficial to the interests of consumers? From this standpoint one would celebrate the Treaty provisions governing the free movement of goods, persons and services across borders coupled to the competition rules as in themselves vibrant instruments of consumer policy (see Chapter 2). Perhaps this is so – but where does this leave the scope for states to select patterns of market regulation that suit their own consumers’ particular preferences? And can there truly be an EU internal market without a comprehensive framework of common rule making established at European level? These are deeply intriguing questions, and they are not cleanly answered by the EU’s governing Treaties. They go to the very heart of the nature of the process of European economic integration, built on legal rules and institutions but resistant to the construction of a European state to underpin a European market.
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