Your Rights by Categories
The European Union consumer policy objectives are expressed in the Treaty of Lisbon, especially in Article 153 and 95 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which takes care to safeguard interests, health, safety and well - being of European consumers.
The technological revolution brought by the Internet and digitalisation is quickly expanding, and over the past few years there has been a significant boost to e - commerce and other e - technologies, which increased cross-border choice for consumers.
The priority of European Union consumer policy is to pursue much closer cooperation with Member States, as well as to interact with other policies, both at EU and national level, while focusing on the fields ‘of monitoring of consumer markets and national consumer policies, on reinforcing the protection of consumers, on better enforcement and redress of their rights and on information and education. The main objectives in this field are defined in the EU consumer policy strategy for 2007-2013.
Selected legislation to provide consumers’ with protection throughout the EU -
As to the question of effective enforcement of individual consumer’s rights, nowadays, it is cheaper and faster to obtain redress through ‘out - of- ordinary’ court proceedings such as via the use of an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism or mediation possibilities that exist at national level of the Member States. As regards small claims in cross border cases (when the value does not exceed €2000) consumers are invited to use the European Small Claims Procedure which simplifies and reduces their costs.
Consumers have also the possibility to use the network of European Consumer Centres (ECC-Net) that is at their disposal to offer them free help and advice.
For further information please consult the website of the European Commission - DG Health and Consumers.
In the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Union reaffirms its commitment to ‘preserving, protecting and improving the quality of the environment’ (Article 191-193 TFEU) along with placing the Environmental Policy Integration principle in Article 11 TFEU.
The Aarhus Convention established a number of rights of the public in relation to the environment, which can be divided into three pillars: The first provides access to environmental information, whereby environmental information is broadly defined; the second provides the public the right to participate in environmental decision-making by an early, informed and effective opportunity to submit its views before decisions have been taken; And the third covers access to justice, which provides for the review by a court, of decisions concerning the first two pillars and also the basis to review acts and omissions by public authorities or private persons that breach environmental law.
By ratifying the Convention, the European Union took it upon itself to meet these obligations and therefore created a legal regime under Article 192 TFEU to serve this end. Operating at two tiers, it aims to meet the requirements:
Alternatively, citizens can try claiming their right to justice in environmental matters by: filing a complaint to the Commission; bringing petitions before the European Parliament; and writing a complaint to the Ombudsman in the case of maladministration by the institutions or bodies of the EU. Most petitions to the European Parliament are in the area of the environment and most infringement cases in the field of environmental law start as a consequence of a complaint to the Commission.
The EU, under Article 91 TFEU on Transport, developed legislation in order to ensure all passengers achieve the goal of mobility throughout the EU without discrimination, regardless of their nationality and that of their transport operators.
In particular, regulations in the field of air Regulation 261/2004 and rail transport Regulation 1371/2007 have been created which grant passengers the rights: to access information; to compensation and assistance in the event of delays, cancellation or denied boarding; and to treatment of complaints and means of redress.
Further to this, citizens have the right to liability in the event of death or injury; and to specific measure for those with reduced mobility –rights, which for air transport, are specified in Regulation 1107/2006 on rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility and Regulation 889/2002 on Air Carrier liability.
Article 168 TFEU presents the most prominent legal basis for patients’ rights stating that ‘a high level of human health protection shall be ensured in the definition and implementation of all Union policies and activities.’
However within the EU there is a variety of healthcare systems manifesting quite different realties in respect to patient rights. Member states are very much free to decide who is to be insured under their legislation, which benefits are granted and under what conditions. This has resulted with most national health systems or insurers traditionally only paying for health care at home, and refusing to cover the cost of treatment abroad, except perhaps in exceptional situations.
Despite this, the ECJ has developed a significant line of case law to protect and promote patient mobility in which it has applied the freedom to provide services Article 56 TFEU, alongside the pre-existing rules based on the free movement of workers provided by Regulation 1408/71 and Regulation 883/2004. (See Case C-158/96 Kohll v Union des Caisses de Maladie).
Rights of persons with Disability
The Treaty of Lisbon gives the European Union the power to combat and prevent discrimination based on disability (Article 19 TEU) and compels it to do so when defining and implementing its policies (Article 10 TFEU).
The European Charter of Fundamental Rights in Article 26 lays down the right of persons with disabilities ‘to benefit from measures designed to ensure their independence, social and occupational integration and participation in the life of the community’.
The most important legislative text, to date, that citizens with disabilities should be aware of is the Framework Directive 2007/78/EC of the Council on the establishment of a general framework for the realisation of equal treatment in employment and occupations. Article 5 states that employers must take appropriate measures to enable a person with disability to have access to or participate in or advance in employment.
For further information see also: