A plea for professionalization in consumer policy

Release date:
June 2013

Ansgar Baums and Ben Scott (ed.): Kompendium Digitale Standortpolitik: Vom 1x1 zum 3x3

As a newer policy area, consumer policy has developed impressively in the last twelve years since the BSE crisis. It has grown from a narrow focus on health and nutrition issues into confidently involving itself in financial, energy and health policy today. Importantly, it also deals with the many facets of the digitization of everyday life. It dedicates itself to issues such as broadband availability in rural areas, privacy protection or hidden costs in the internet.

However, consumer policy has also received criticism. It has been accused of activism, incoherence and paternalism. Critics argue that these shortcomings lead to consumer policy often overshooting its goals, accepting collateral damage as necessary or as ultimately constituting only empty promises.

This article deals with the questions of what goals should consumer policy pursue in the digital world, which challenges does it face today and what does the future of effective consumer policy look like. The central argument is that consumer policy needs to professionalize and align itself strategically in order to continue on its successful course and to meet its own standards. To achieve these objectives, it is particularly important for consumer policy to be evidence-based, for different consumer policy actors to better coordinate their activities with one another, for new innovative and unconventional consumer policy stakeholders to be involved and for consumer policy to use the opportunities of digitization for its own goals.

The publication can be found here.

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