Consumer product quality: Parliament takes aim at dual standards

Product Quality 2018

© European Union , 2016 / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service / Photo: François Walschaerts

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.

Various 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.

Such differences were found not only in foods, 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.

The European Parliament on Thursday recommended several measures at EU and national levels to identify and tackle “dual quality” consumer products.

Cross-border cooperation, comparative tests and better enforcement

MEPs call for, inter alia:

  • swift cross-border cooperation and data-sharing on potentially non-compliant products and possible unfair practices among national consumer protection and food authorities, consumer associations and the EU Commission,
  • a common testing approach to gather reliable and comparable evidence and help ascertain how serious and widespread “dual quality” practices are, and
  • results to be disclosed in a publicly-available database and analysed “no later than by the end of 2018”.

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 (UCPD), MEPs point out that it requires further clarification. “The outcome of the legislative process should be a clear definition of what can be considered dual quality and how each case should be assessed and addressed”, they say.

Parliament is, however, “strongly convinced” that an amendment introducing another item on to the ‘blacklist’ of the directive (Annex I, listing the practices prohibited in all circumstances) that explicitly mentions dual quality of identically-branded products when discriminatory and not respecting consumer expectations “would address unjustified cases of dual quality in the most effective way”.

EU-wide logo

“Consumer preferences should not be used as an excuse to lower quality or offer different quality grades on different markets”, Parliament says, 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 EU countries.

Quote

Rapporteur Olga Sehnalová (S&D, CZ) said: “Consumers in different countries complain that they do not enjoy access to the same level of quality when buying branded products. Dual quality products undermine citizens’ confidence in the fair functioning of the EU internal market, and therefore require a solution at EU level. If the product, no matter whether it is a well-known food, drink, cosmetics or detergent, differs even though it appears identical to the consumer, this should be considered an unfair commercial practice. There can be neither second-class products, nor consumers, in the EU.”

Next steps

The recommendations included in the non-legislative resolution drafted by Ms Sehnalová were approved by 464 votes to 69, with 17 abstentions.

The new legislative proposal amending the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (rapporteur Daniel Dalton (ECR, UK)), is expected to be put to a vote in the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee in November.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

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

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “European unity and cooperation is being called on question”, Vice President Joe Biden criticizes from Davos

Merkel refuses to consider the North-South schism of Eurozone

Deep chasm still divides Athens and Brussels; can Eurozone use the nuclear arm of liquidity against Greece?

Congolese expelled from Angola returning to ‘desperate situation’: UN refugee agency

Where is Egypt leading the Middle East and the Mediterranean economy?

This is why Dutch teenagers are among the happiest in the world

EU signs with Canada historic trade agreement, others to follow

MEPs criticise “America first” policy

How dearly will Germany pay for the Volkswagen emissions rigging scandal

This city is planting a tree for every man, woman and child

EU/African, Caribbean and Pacific partnership: MEPs list key aims for renewal

This 12-year-old built an underwater robot to fight plastic pollution

Draghi joined Macron in telling Germany how Eurozone must be reformed

Has the treacherous theory about the ‘French patient’ finally prevailed?

IMF’s Lagarde to Peoples of the world: You have to work more for the banks!

Sustainable development demands a broader vision, says new OECD Development Centre report

Here are 6 big ideas to help the environment

China Unlimited Special Report: The trip to China

The EU accuses Russia of bullying Ukraine to change sides

A money laundering case on Vatican Bank’s road to renovation

The US and EU decisively oppose Erdogan’s plans for Turkey and beyond

No end to Deutsche Bank’s problems: new litigations in the US and frailty in EU stress test

Colombia: New Congress marks rebel group’s transition ‘from weapons to politics’, says UN

Haitian President at General Assembly calls for essential development aid as UN mission shifts away from peacekeeping

The challenges of Chinese investment in Latin America

Second Facebook-Cambridge Analytica hearing: impact on privacy, voting and trust

Regional competitiveness and growth: a Gordian knot for Europe

Eurozone officials play with people’s deposits and minds

Liaison Officer – 2020

Nicaragua must end ‘witch-hunt’ against dissenting voices – UN human rights experts

104 countries have laws that prevent women from working in some jobs

No barriers to free flow of non-personal data in the EU

Greenhouse gas levels in atmosphere break another record, UN report shows

Trump ‘used’ G20 to side with Putin and split climate and trade packs

On World Day to Combat Desertification, UN shines spotlight on ‘true value’ of land

More than nine in ten children exposed to deadly air pollution

We can end TB right now. Here’s how

EU budget: the Common Agricultural Policy beyond 2020

Commission caps charges on card and Internet payments and enforces competition

Google case: A turning point in competition rules enforcement

These are the world’s most future-proof cities

Treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons marks first anniversary, but still lacks sufficient numbers to become law

3 ways business leaders can build digital trust

How the United States can win back its manufacturing mojo

UN global counter-terrorism strategy review an ‘overarching vision for the future’: Assembly President

Member states jeopardising the rule of law will risk losing EU funds

Parliament cuts own spending to facilitate agreement on EU budget

Parmesan cheese on shelves in Italy (Copyright: European Union, 2014 / Source: EC - Audiovisual Service / Photo: Daniela Giusti)

CETA at risk again: Italy says it won’t ratify EU-Canada trade deal over product protection fears

Berlin vies for a Germanic European Central Bank

Madagascar: UN chief commends leaders, State institutions following ‘historic milestone’ election

“There are many converging visions and interests between the One Belt One Road initiative and the Juncker Investment Plan”, Ambassador Yang of the Chinese Mission to EU highlights from Brussels

Oh, well, you are wrong, Google responds to the European Commission

Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson: who forced the two ‘brave’ Brexiteers to quit?

European Youth Forum welcomes steps towards raising awareness of youth rights by EU ministers

Draghi’s top new year resolution: Quantitative Easing

Bundesbank’s President Weidmann criticises France and the EU. Credibility at risk?

Why Indian students are going abroad to become Doctors?

‘Many challenges to overcome’ at UN, in fight against abuse: victims’ advocate

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