What does the Treaty say?Article 3 of the Lisbon Treaty sets out the EU’s clear objective of working for the sustainable development of Europe based on balanced economic growth and price stability, and a highly competitive social market economy aimed at achieving full employment and social progress.
The Treaty states that responsibility for consumer protection will be shared between the Union and member states. Existing EU treaty law that says consumer protection requirements shall be taken into account when defining and implementing other EU policies and activities, is given greater prominence in the Lisbon Treaty.
How consumers have already benefited from EU membership?Cheaper goods and services
The EU has worked to improve competitiveness and reduce monopolies within its internal market. As a direct result of EU membership, Irish consumers now enjoy cheaper prices, greater choice and higher quality products and services. Air travel and mobile phone services are good examples.
Safer food, toys and medicine
EU consumer laws ensure that foods sold in the EU are safe, and have focused heavily on ensuring that the labelling/packaging of products give detailed information to consumers. There is now a rapid EU-wide warning system for cases of food contamination and a wide variety of safety measures in place covering cosmetics, toys, medicines, dangerous substances and the use of hormones in meat and dairy production.
Stronger consumer rights
- Consumers in the EU are now protected by a two-year guarantee when they purchase a product, allowing them to choose freely between repair or price reduction if the product is faulty.
- The EU has made member states responsible for ensuring that consumers are not hoodwinked by unfair terms and conditions in contracts.
- There are now improved and simplified comparisons of price and quantity between products sold across the EU.
- Across the EU, consumers can bring complaints against misleading advertising before legal or administrative authorities.
- Millions of tourists travelling on package holidays are now protected against possible corrupt practices by the organisers of package holidays. For example, surcharges are subject to certain conditions; compensation or a return journey home must occur in the event of cancellation, insolvency or bankruptcy; and, consumer brochures must contain clear and precise information on prices, means of transport, type of accommodation, where it is located, its standard etc.
- And finally, member states are now required to apply common rules to all forms of credit, preventing distortion of competition among banks, credit card companies and other institutions, and protecting consumers.