what was at stake
green position
what we achieved
what we did not achieve

Consumer rights in European law

Consumer rights in European law are covered by several different Directives, which makes the legislation harder to apply and more complicated to reform.

The Commission therefore set out to roll these different Directives into one.

The texts involved concern contracts negotiated outside business premises, unfair terms in consumer contracts, distance contracts and consumer sales and guarantees.


What was the Greens' position?

The Greens believe that consumer rights play an essential part in determining consumers' confidence in the products they buy.

If consumer rights are harmonised across the EU, either this should be done at the highest level or the Member States should have the option of applying stronger rights if they so choose.

Consumers must have the most extensive information possible before they buy a product. If after making a purchase it turns out that a product is non-compliant, they should be able to choose how to remedy the situation, instead of being bound to vouchers or other inflexible solutions.


Did other MEPs accept the Greens' position?

After two years of exacting negotiations, the Greens succeeded in introducing several key amendments and keeping harmful passages out of the text.

We achieved a good compromise on high levels of harmonisation and on Member States' flexibility to go further than the respective EU rules.

We also secured improvements with respect to online and long-distance purchases, ensuring that consumers are provided with better information when they actually enter into a contract, and granting them the right to withdraw from it, subject to certain conditions.

Furthermore, the definition of 'consumer' was extended to legal persons.

We managed to exclude services of general interest, such as supplying water or social services, from the new proposal for a Directive. We also succeeded in introducing clauses that prevent online shops, e.g. budget airlines) from charging more than the cost price for credit card transactions.


Which points did the Greens lose?
The Greens were unable to gain majority support for the highest level of harmonisation of consumer rights in all domains. We also regret that pharmaceuticals were excluded from the scope of the Directive. Where online purchases were concerned, consumers' rights were weakened with respect to returns of purchases more than €40. Sellers must inform consumers before the purchase that they will have to bear the costs of any such returns.
Press & Events

Procedure:Ordinary legislative procedure


Lead MEP:Andreas Schwab

Green MEP responsible:Emilie Turunen


Staff contact:Claire Kwan (Email)

Outcome of the vote
Below you find the results of the final vote in plenary. How did the political groups vote? What about national delegations? And what was the position of your MEP?