COJEF II (2014 - 2016) Guidelines

CoJEF II started on 1 of March 2014 and ran for two years. The final project guidelines were prepared with the support of Professor Evelyne Terryn (University of Leuven), Professor Geraint Howells (on leave from University of Manchester at City University of Hong Kong) and Professor Hans Micklitz (European University Institute).

They provide for a set of recommendations to improve the enforcement of consumer law at national and EU level, especially with the view of the work of consumer associations.

The full document is available here.

Summary of the project findings

  • Public and private together: Consumer organisations have been and still are the frontrunners in relation to consumer law enforcement, particularly in the digital market place. They are watchdogs of the market. Public and private enforcement do not exclude each other quite to the contrary they mutually strengthen each other provided an appropriate framework for co-operation exists.
  • Needed structural rules on national and transborder co-operation in consumer law enforcement: Structural cooperation between consumer organisations and public authorities may take different forms – from regular exchanges of information and consultations, to joint media campaigns etc. This cooperation should be reinforced through the possibility of enforcement requests that the authority must act upon and investigate.
  • Needed complaints collection: The early detection of market failure and consumer problems in quickly evolving markets remains crucial. This requires a developed and widely standardized system on the electronic collection and evaluation of consumer complaints across the EU. The barriers of fragmented and dispersed collection systems need urgently to be overcome through the development of appropriate common schemes across Europe to guarantee an effective exchange of information, both between consumer organisations and between consumer organisations and public authorities.
  • Needed collective action beyond injunctions: Being able to rely on an effective procedure of collective redress is paramount if consumers are to directly benefit from the successful enforcement and the work of consumer organisations. The EU recommendation on collective redress provides for a minimum standard which still awaits implementation in many Member States.
  • Needed consumer law enforcement through information technology: The beginning debate on using information technology in particular through the development of self-learning algorithms should be forcefully promoted and be made available to consumer law enforcement through consumer associations and public bodies.
  • Needed new approach on a European wide effect of administrative action and judgments: Competition law is ahead of consumer law. Experience with co-ordinated enforcement action shows that an injunction in one country does not guarantee that the transnationally operating company will change its practices in other EU countries. Whilst information exchange as well as cooperation with national enforcement authorities and using social media remains crucial, European standards on the transborder effect of enforcement actions are needed.