Consumer Policy and the Lisbon Treaty

In the last decade EU consumer law has been marked by three important changes: a modification in the EU harmonization strategy, the adoption of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and the Lisbon Treaty.

For a long time, the Union has harmonized consumer law at a minimum level, allowing the Member States to determine higher standards of protection. [1] This changed in early 2000, when the Commission began promoting a full-harmonization approach, precluding higher protective rules by Member States in the harmonized field.[2]

In 2000 the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union was adopted, elevating consumer protection to a fundamental rights objective of the EU.[3] Furthermore, the Lisbon Treaty of 2009, while strengthening the role of human rights in the EU, introduced new rights, such as the right to citizens’ initiative, which will have implications in several legal areas.

How are these new developments going to interact and influence consumer protection? To answer this question, the following subsection starts by describing the harmonization phenomenon and its potential impact on Member States’ consumer laws.

  • [1] E.g. Directive 93/13 on unfair terms in consumer contracts, OJ 1993 L 95/29 contained sucha minimum rule.
  • [2] Weatherill (n 47), p. 2.
  • [3] The Charter will be further discussed in ch. 3 of this book.
 
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