Today the European Commission published its 9th Consumer Scoreboard where it reaches the conclusion that consumer protection still varies greatly between EU Member States.
From the Commission’s perspective the results indicate a need for a fresh drive to ensure that consumers can buy with equal confidence and ease across the EU, whether online or offline. One major key finding is the decrease in consumer trust matched by an increase in the use of redress. A simple example shows the lacking confidence of European consumers while shopping online: Only 35% of Europeans are confident buying online from sellers in other EU countries and seven out of ten consumers do not know what to do when they receive products that they did not order.
The main findings of the scoreboard are:
E-commerce is on the rise, especially domestically: Consumers shopping online in the domestic market grew from 38% to 41% compared to an increase from 9.6% to 11% for cross-border purchases. Main inhibitors are the impossibility of completing a purchase, e.g. because there is no delivery to the consumer's country or because foreign payment cards are not accepted by the online retailer.
Huge differences in consumer conditions across the EU: The share of consumers who feel adequately protected by existing measures ranges from 18% to 76%. Overall, consumer conditions appear to be most favourable in Northern and Western Europe.
Important socio-demographic differences: The elderly, low-educated respondents, persons not in employment, blue collar workers, and consumers who do not have an Internet connection at home are the ones benefiting the least from their rights and the opportunities available.
Illegal commercial practices persist: An assessment of consumers and retailers shows no clear decrease in the level of illegal commercial practices in the past four years. Over 50% of consumers declared to be likely to come across such practices on the Internet.
The Scoreboard is a regular report that tracks the integration of the EU internal retail market from the consumer perspective and monitors the quality of the national consumer environment. A novelty this year is the socio-demographic break-down of the results, as requested by the European Parliament.
Further information: 9th Consumer Scoreboard - July 2013: http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/consumer_research/editions/cms9_en.htm
Source: European Commission