Consumer protection, their rights and obligations and how these are ensured through legislation in an era of great challenges due to digitization and the green transition were the focus of a Consumer Dialogue event on Wednesday at EU House entitled “New Agenda for Consumers – future challenges”. The event made extensive reference to the new EU agenda and how it addresses emerging issues and concerns.
The event began with introductory speeches by the deputy head of the Commission delegation in Cyprus, Nikos Isaris, the Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, through a video message, and the Minister of Energy, Giorgos Papanastasiou.
This was followed by two round table discussions focusing on the digital age and the green transition with the participation of ministry officials, productive entities, associations and others. Both panels were attended by the Director General of the Directorate of Justice and Consumers, Isabelle Perignon.
It is imperative to strengthen the interests of consumers, says the Minister
In his greeting, the Minister of Energy, Trade and Industry Giorgos Papanastasiou said that especially today, with so many problems that govern our daily lives, the defense and strengthening of consumer interests becomes even more imperative.
He said that the Commission's new consumer agenda, which constitutes the EU's comprehensive strategic framework for consumers in the period 2020-2025, is particularly successful and well-targeted.
The The minister said he is focused on boosting confidence among consumers, which is expected to catalyze the strengthening of the economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic and after the major geopolitical problems that have been created in Europe and the Middle East.
< p class="text-paragraph">“This new strategic framework takes a holistic approach to EU policies related to consumers, while complementing other Union initiatives in the areas of sustainability and digitalisation,” it said.
Mr. Papanastasiou added that especially for the challenges created by climate change, the member states are committed to a new development strategy, which will transform the Union into a modern, sustainable and efficient single market in terms of the use of resources, environmental and digital.
“Cyprus is moving forward with reforms and investments amounting to 1.2 billion euros until 2026, through the implementation of the national Recovery and Resilience Plan “Cyprus _ Tomorrow” and we plan and implement measures to strengthen and expand the productive base of the Cypriot economy”, he said.
He also stated that the safety of products and toys for children and minors and their protection from harmful content will continue to be strengthened and at the same time Social Media and 'Influencers' should be effectively controlled and supervised.
< p class="text-paragraph">He also mentioned the need to properly inform consumers about their rights, their obligations, the various risks and how to adequately protect themselves.
We empower consumers in the green and digital environment, said Isaris
In his speech, the deputy head of the Commission's delegation, Nikos Isaris, noted that the event is an excellent opportunity to identify and discuss the various challenges facing consumers today, noting that the new EU agenda started in 2020, with the aim of empowering consumers with the necessary information and legal safeguards amid a new digital age and growing sustainability and environmental concerns and preferences.
He said the EU's New Consumer Agenda addresses various concerns and the main goal is to empower consumers to make informed and safe choices as they navigate the green and digital transitions our economies and societies are currently undergoing.
We have done a lot on the legal framework said Commissioner Reynders
Commissioner Reynders in his video message emphasized that in Cyprus and across Europe, consumers face extraordinary challenges and that the agenda of the Commission determines specific actions to protect consumers and empower them to play an active role in the green and digital transition.
“This Commission has done a lot to strengthen our legal framework and move towards our Green Deal goals. Our guiding principle is that people should be at the center of everything we do. The same applies to the digital transition. Our new rules on consumer credit and distance marketing of financial services will protect consumers in the highly digitized financial services sector,” it said.
The Commissioner also referred to the submission of a review of the rules on alternative consumer dispute resolution and the changes to the Travel Directive and congratulated the Cypriot authorities on the communication and awareness campaigns.
Discussions, exchange of views and reflections
In the panels that followed, emphasis was placed on the digital and green transition and what consumers should know, but also what the competent authorities should do to protect them and strengthen institutions and implement legislation.
Among other things, it was mentioned that there are several legislations and others are being enacted, but it is important to have supervision for their implementation. The changes brought about by digital transformation, complaints and their investigation and the pitfalls of online shopping were discussed. The speakers emphasized that everyone must acquire specific skills in the digital age.
There was also extensive reference and analysis of what the Commission is doing to empower consumers and protect them, with the aim of there is a balance, given that technology is running and we constantly have to be one step ahead.
Another reference was made to the safety of online shopping and how the consumer is protected from products from China, for example, that do not meet EU standards.