Consumer product quality: MEPs take aim at dual standards

Supermarkets 2018

The interior of ASDA in Keighley, West Yorkshire, taken from the walkway facilitating street level access to the shop. The branch opened in 2009 complementing Keighley’s existing Morrison’s and Sainsbury’s supermarkets. Taken on the afternoon of Saturday the 22nd of August 2009. (Mtaylor848, 2009)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.

If a firm sells a product EU-wide, but with compositions that differ between countries, it must not label and brand it in a seemingly identical way, as this may mislead consumers, say MEPs.

Many tests and surveys done in several EU member states, mainly in Central and Eastern Europe, have proven that products advertised and sold under the same brand and seemingly identical packaging in fact differ in composition and ingredients, to the detriment of consumers.

These differences were found not only in food products, such as fish fingers, instant soup, coffee and soft drinks, but often also in non-food products, including detergents, cosmetics, toiletries and products intended for babies.

In a report approved by 33 votes to three, with one abstention on Thursday, Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee recommends several measures at EU and national levels to tackle the “dual quality” problem.

Rapporteur Olga Sehnalová (S&D, CZ) said: “Dual quality products undermine citizens’ confidence in the fair functioning of the EU internal market. If a product is sold under the same brand and packaging, it should have the same composition. If the manufacturer wants to customise a product, consumers have the right to know and be aware of this adjustment for each individual product”.

“We must ensure that all misleading practices are outlawed and that the proposed initiatives do not just remain on paper. In order to do so, the amendment to the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, as proposed by the European Commission in April, is a good starting point. However, it needs several clarifications to work effectively. There must be neither second-class products, nor second-class consumers in the EU”, she added.

Call for cross-border cooperation, comparative tests and better enforcement

MEPs call for swift cross-border cooperation and data-sharing, including on potentially non-compliant products and possible unfair practices, among national consumer protection and food authorities, consumer associations and the EU Commission in order to tackle dual quality and ensure that the rules are enforced better and more consistently.

A common testing approach needs to be fully developed, to gather reliable and comparable evidence and help ascertain how serious and widespread the “dual quality” issue is. The results should be disclosed in a publicly available database and analysed “no later than by end of this year”, says the committee.

Updating the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive

While welcoming the EU Commission’s April 2018 “New Deal for Consumers” proposal, which amends the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive in order to tackle dual quality of products, MEPs point out that it requires further clarification. “The outcome of the legislative process should be a clear definition of what can be considered as ‘dual quality’ and how each case should be assessed and addressed”, says the committee.

EU-wide logo

“Consumer preferences should not be used as an excuse for lowering quality and/or offering different quality grades on different markets”, MEPs say, reiterating that business operators are permitted to market and sell goods with different composition and characteristics across the EU only where justified by “legitimate factors” and in full compliance with EU laws.

MEPs invite manufacturers to consider including a logo on the packaging that would show that the content and quality of the same brand is the same across all EU countries.

Next steps

The report by Olga Sehnalová will be put to a vote by the full Parliament at September’s plenary session. The new legislative proposal amending the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive is expected to be put to a committee vote in November.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

At last Britain considers a super-soft Brexit

The Netherlands is paying people to cycle to work

Capital markets selloff: The financial moguls send messages to monetary authorities

The role of junior entrepreneurs as a bridge between academia and business world

New skills agenda for Europe needs real investment

Iraq needs support to ‘leave violent past behind’, says UN envoy as Security Council extends UN mission for one year

‘Power is not given, power is taken’, UN chief tells women activists, urging push-back against status quo

Saudi Arabia: UN experts push for prompt release of women human rights defenders

Mother of all mergers between Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram: EU Data Privacy restrictions against Facebook’s imperialistic plans

Novartis and Johnson & Johnson to deprive Europeans of their right to Health

Parliament votes reform for better European Co2 market but critics want it sooner than later

International data flows: Commission launches the adoption of its adequacy decision on Japan

To flourish in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we need to rethink these 3 things

Doctors are humans too: the benefits of embracing your mental status

Juncker’s Investment Plan in desperate need for trust and funds from public and private investors

End fossil fuel subsidies, and stop using taxpayers’ money to destroy the world: Guterres

Who the US and China have trade disputes with

EU Parliament: Follow the fraudulent money and confiscate it

What keeps me up at night? Two strategists reply

Turkey caught in a vicious Syrian circle bringing terror and war at home

European Youth Forum demands immediate action & binding agreement on climate change

Eurozone: Austerity brings new political tremors

6 things to know about press freedom around the world

Kids who live in the countryside have better motor skills, a study in Finland has found

UN condemns Syrian ‘war on children’ as up to 30 reportedly killed in clashes

Children who exercise have more brain power, finds study

The world is getting angrier, according to a new poll

Antibiotic resistance: challenges and solutions

On youth unemployment: unemployment is even bleaker for youth with disabilities

Support ‘winds of change’ in DR Congo to consolidate positive developments, urges UN mission chief

Hopes for Palestinian State hit by ‘facts on the ground’ : senior UN official

Multilateralism’s ‘proven record of service’ is focus of first-ever International Day

Governments, businesses ‘walk the talk’ for investment in sustainable development: UN forum

Berlin to pay at the end for Eurozone banks’ consolidation

Meet the Junior Enterprise network at JEWC 2014!

Mental health and suicide prevention – what can be done to increase access to mental health services in my local area?

“Asia-Pacific takes stock of ambitious development targets”, written by the Heads of UNFPA and ESCAP

Ukraine: turning challenges into opportunities


ECB’s new money bonanza handed out to help the real economy or create new bubbles?

This is where teachers are paid the most

For how long and at what cost can the ECB continue printing trillions to keep euro area going?

A Sting Exclusive: “Stronger Cybersecurity for a safer EU against cybercrime and cyber threats”, by MEP Dalli

3 lessons from India in creating equal access to vaccines

UN should be ‘exemplary’ in defending judicial independence, top Judge tells Security Council

In this ‘wildland’ farm in Britain, species thrive and yields are high

Commission: Do it like the Americans in the food sector

How the powerful science of behaviour change can make us healthier

A Sting Exclusive: “Doing ourselves a favour”, Vice President Dombrovskis underscores that this time growth has to come from within the EU

Cyber defence: MEPs call for better European cooperation

EU Council: Private web data to be protected by…abusers

Antisemitism, intolerance, can be unlearned, Guterres tells New York commemoration

‘True’ peace, requires standing up for human rights, says UN chief Guterres

Data show EU Economy in a stubbornly subdued state

UN chief welcomes ‘first concrete step’ in normalizing Eritrea-Ethiopia relationship

Shenzhen just made all its buses electric, and taxis are next

Measles claims more than twice as many lives than Ebola in DR Congo

EU Budgets: Europe hoping for Xmas gifts

Wednesday’s Daily Brief: #NoTobacco Day, China’s economy, family farming, #ClimateAction

Switzerland: prepare for population ageing to maintain high living standards

Parliament backs new CO2 emissions limits for cars and vans

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s