By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission on Wednesday proposed tightening product safety and consumer credit rules for consumers, fueled by the surge in people’s online purchases during COVID-19 lockdowns and rising digitization of everyday life.
Existing rules known as the General Product Safety Directive came into effect in 2001, while rules on consumer credit to protect consumers were implemented in 2008.
The EU executive said 70% of consumers bought online last year, with new technology products making up the bulk of their purchases.
“We are making it easier for consumers to avoid the risks related to having a credit and we are implementing even stricter rules for product safety,” Commission Vice President Vera Jourova said in a statement.
“It will also place more responsibility on market players and make it harder for bad actors to hide behind complicated legal jargon,” he said.
The proposals seek to address cybersecurity risks and require online marketplaces to adopt product security rules.
The Commission also wants credit-related information to be clearly presented and tailored to digital devices to ensure that consumers understand what they are signing up for.
The Consumer Credit Directive should also strengthen rules on users’ creditworthiness to avoid the problem of over-indebtedness, while EU countries will be asked to promote financial education and ensure the availability of debt counseling.
“The COVID-19 crisis has affected consumers in multiple ways and many have faced financial difficulties,” said EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders.
Proposals will need to be discussed with EU countries and the European Parliament before they can enter into force.
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