Chapter 11: Evaluating Community Consumer Policy
When the first edition of this book was published in 1997 it was possible to claim convincingly that a relatively small amount of scholarship existed which took seriously the quest to understand what might and should be intended by the notion of an ‘EC consumer policy’. That is no longer defensible. A rich body of work has emerged in which attempts are made to provide a systematic account of the shape of EC consumer policy. This is particularly true of the material that impinges on contract law, but it spreads more widely too. Out of an original Treaty pattern which promised little other than the indirect fruits of the process of market integration, a network of Community policies affecting the consumer has developed. The European Court has shaped a perception of the consumer in assessing the permissibility of national techniques of market regulation, including consumer protection, which impede the integrative process. The political institutions have been responsible for a ‘soft law’ framework for the development of consumer policy. Moreover, the programme of harmonization of laws has involved Community legislative activity in the field of consumer protection. Although harmonization is constitutionally driven by the imperatives of economic integration, it leads to a Community pattern of laws affecting the consumer interest. Since the entry into force of the Single European Act in 1987, the constitutional link between internal market policy and consumer protection (if not the detailed elaboration of the relationship) has been beyond doubt thanks to (what is now) Article 95...
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