On 13 November 2020, the European Commission published their New Consumer Agenda. We are very happy to see some key points included in this Communication which support the central principle of our campaign: that everyone in Europe should have the right to choose how to be contacted with important information – on paper or digitally.
What’s in the New Consumer Agenda?
The New Consumer Agenda notes that support for consumers with specific needs is a cross-cutting issue, and an issue that has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. Some consumers, such as those without adequate digital skills, are now at an even higher risk of exclusion or of having their interactions limited due to accelerated digital transformation.
The Commission notes that “certain groups of consumers in certain situations can be particularly vulnerable and need specific safeguards” and none should be treated differently due to their age, gender, health, digital literacy, numeracy or financial situation. Importantly, although these vulnerabilities may have been intensified by the pandemic, they do not exist because of it. Therefore, it is recognised that actions are needed to ensure the accessibility of products and services for all citizens even after the pandemic.
Keep Me Posted EU welcomes in particular the call to “ensure that clear, user-friendly and accessible information is available both online and offline in accordance with EU accessibility requirements for products and services” because “a fair and non-discriminatory approach to the digital transformation should cater to the needs of older consumers, consumers with disabilities and more generally ‘off-liners’ who may be less familiar or less at ease with digital tools”.
Next steps for Keep Me Posted EU
In the short term, we especially look forward to updated guidance documents on the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive and the Consumer Rights Directive, which we hope will support the citizen’s right to choose.
In the longer term, we will be following The New Consumer Agenda’s Action 7 particularly closely. This action clarifies that by 2022 “the Commission plans to analyse whether additional legislation or other action are needed in the medium-term in order to ensure equal fairness online and offline”. In addition, Action 18 notes that by 2023 the Commission will develop a “strategic approach to improving consumer awareness and education, addressing also the needs of different groups, on the basis inter alia of equality and non-discrimination approaches”. We anticipate that the messages of our campaign will also be under discussion as a part of these actions.
We congratulate the European Commission on the adoption of their New Consumer Agenda – particularly its indication that consumers should be able to access information both online and offline without being treated differently. This is a key principle of the Keep Me Posted EU campaign which we hope to see further reinforced in upcoming consumer initiatives.