Online purchasing platforms and comparative services such as Amazon, eBay, AirBnb, Skyscanner will in future have to reveal to consumers the parameters that determine the classification of offers resulting from a search.
This is also the case in the directive adopted in Strasbourg, one of the last acts of the outgoing European Parliament.
By 474 votes to 163 with 14 abstentions, the plenary adopted a directive amending four existing directives on consumer rights: unfair commercial practices, consumer rights, unfair contractual terms and price indication.
The directive, which is part of the package known as the New Consumer Agreement, will now be submitted to the formal approval (the text has already been agreed) of the EU Council of Ministers, launched by Commission President Jean-Claude Junker a year and a half ago.
After that, the Member States will have 24 months from the date of entry into force of the Directive to transpose it into national law.
The new Directive amends Council Directive 93/13/EEC, Directive 98/6/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, Directive 2005/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Directive 2009/23/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council.
This is an update of EU consumer protection rules, designed to counter misleading reviews online and dual product quality.
The new law updates consumer rights to the internet era, providing consumers with more information on how the online rankings work and when they come from sponsored post.
The new rules aim to make the use of online reviews and personalised prices more transparent for consumers.
Consumers will also have to be informed by those who purchase goods or services, i.e. whether by a trader, marketplace itself or by a private individual, and whether personalised prices have been used.
The text approved in Strasbourg also addresses the question of the so-called double quality of products, i.e. those marketed under the same trademark in different EU countries, which differ in composition or characteristics, giving Member States the task of combating misleading marketing.
When conditions such as similar marketing of identical products in Member States are determined, with significantly different compositions or characteristics and without justification, the practice could be classified as misleading and therefore prohibited.
In addition, the text includes a review clause requiring the European Commission to assess the situation within two years to verify whether the dual quality of products should be added to the blacklist of unfair commercial practices.
For infringements deemed widespread, which harm consumers in several EU countries, the maximum available fine must amount to at least 4% of the trader’s annual turnover in the previous financial year or, if no turnover information is available, to a flat-rate amount of two million euros.
A package, defined by the outgoing British MEP, Daniel Dalton, head of the text, who can strengthen consumer rights in the internet era, bringing new protections and giving consumers the opportunity to receive information whenever they buy.
♪ The deal we found is a start. The issue of dual quality products is being addressed for the first time and the European Commission will have to examine progress in the coming years. And who knows if Dalton will participate in the evaluation or be a spectator outside the Community.