Jurgen Tiedje - European Consumer Summit 2014

Consumer Summit
Consumer Rights under the
Services Directive
Jürgen Tiedje, Head of Unit
Unit Business-to-Consumer
Services Directive
• Offers particular safeguards also to service recipients
(consumers and business alike)
• Article 20 (1): ban on discrimination by public authorities
• Article 20 (2): ban on discrimination by companies?
• Discrimination banned to enable consumers to buy
anywhere in the EU with greater confidence.
• What kind of discrimination? Different treatment based on
nationality or place of residence of EU citizens
– Most frequent: refusal to supply or different conditions applied (e.g.
higher prices)
• No discrimination where differences applied by companies
are based on objective criteria (e.g. lack of copyright).
Examples of cases
• A UK citizen living in France wished to buy
an e-book reader from an online retailer on
its UK webpage but was told that, because he
lived in France, he had to make a deal with
the retailer on its international webpage.
• Austrian ski lift operators in skiing regions
Tirol and Arlberg offer preferential rates to
local customers and exclude foreigners
from such offers.
The scale of the problem
• Consumers complained with European Consumer Centres
(more than 200 cases between 2010 and 2012):
– 74% : online distribution of goods
– 21%: online booking in tourism and for leisure activities
– 5%:
online rental of cars or other leasing services
• Consumers responded to surveys (Eurobarometer 2013)
– 22% of EU citizens active online experienced problems when shopping
online in the EU
• Consumers using their computer (IP-address) at home
– DG Internal Market carried out a study "web-scraping" of websites of
companies in 2013
– Consistently higher prices found for IP addresses located in particular in
Sweden, Italy and Cyprus (for popular amusement park)
List of issues
• Challenge: ban on discrimination versus contractual freedom of
• Objective criteria justifying different treatment:
– additional costs incurred because of the distance involved or the
technical characteristics of the provision of the service, or different
market conditions (higher or lower demand influenced by seasonality)
– different vacation periods in MS,
– pricing by different competitors,
– extra risks linked to rules (consumer law),
– lack of intellectual property rights
Next steps
• Reduce justifications through regulatory and technical
– Ongoing : Consumer Rights Directive
– Future: e.g. Copyright reform, payment services (retail financial services,
credit cards)
• Steps with regard to the Services Directive? Need for
– Awareness amongst consumers & enhancing transparency: information
campaign (brochure) in spring 2014 and conference in Brussels on 19
November 2014
– Further research: what is unjustified price discrimination?
– Further policy discussion:
focusing next steps on consumers going online?
consumers moving to other Member States to receive services?

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