24-25 November, Poznań - European Competition and Consumer Day

Priorities of the Polish Presidency in the Council

www.prezydencja.uokik.gov.pl

Every six months a  different member state of the European Union holds the Presidency, that is,  presides over the work of the  Council of the European Union. During this  time, the state holding the Presidency becomes the host of the majority of EU events, responsible for organizing meetings, both formal and informal, as well as representing the Council before the EU institutions, in particular the European Commission and European Parliament.

1 July 2011 Poland took over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Priorities of the Polish Presidency in the Council

www.prezydencja.uokik.gov.pl

The scale of the challenges confronting Europe today requires deeper integration and intense cooperation for the sake of economic growth. For our actions to be effective there has to be a synergy between European and national activities. Europe can be strong - but it has to unite in the face of numerous challenges.

The Polish Presidency will aim to put  the European Union onto the path of  development and it will focus on three priorities:

  • European integration as a source of growth,
  • Secure Europe,
  • Europe benefiting from openness

Priorities of the Polish Presidency in the Council are presented in the document Programme of the 6-month  Polish Presidency of the EU Council in the Second Half of 2011, which was adopted by the Council of Ministers on 31 May 2011

Sectoral priorities - strengthening the role of consumers, ensuring consumer safety and more  effective protection

www.prezydencja.uokik.gov.pl

When defining the priorities of Polish Presidency in the field of consumer protection, we had in mind the fact that well informed consumers, who have confidence and strong position in the market are the driving force of economic changes as their choices stimulate innovation and productivity. For this reason, we should seek to provide consumers with the tools and skills to fulfill their role in the modern economy, and to provide them with effective protection from risks and threats, which they cannot confront individually.

Consumer protection policy at the EU level is an important component of the internal market functioning, as consumers are the backbone of the EU economy. Their consumption represents 58% of EU GDP. If the common market functions efficiently, consumers will have greater confidence in cross-border transactions, what will have a positive impact on competition and prices, and, in consequence,  bring benefit to all EU consumers. The enhanced consumer protection aims to implement this goal and strives to create a genuine internal market for the exchange of consumer goods.

www.prezydencja.uokik.gov.plEU consumer policy also seeks to ensure the health and economic safety of consumers and unification standards for their protection in the internal market. In a united Europe, the consumer has a right to expect that the purchased product is safe to use and does not endanger his/her life or health. What's more, he is entitled to claim protection at the same level regardless of which country the goods were purchased or are used.


The identified barriers to effective consumer protection policy include the following:

  • lack of consumer confidence in cross-border trade,
  • legal obstacles,
  • administrative obstacles,
  • the differences between the member states in regulations regarding consumer contracts and redress issues.

Polish Presidency wants to meet some of these challenges and contribute to the strengthening of consumers’ position in the European market.

www.prezydencja.uokik.gov.pl

Our activities fall within one of the superior priorities, which is striving to deepen the Single Market. Full accomplishment of the internal market conditions is a key instrument that will enable the European Union to get back onto the path of sustained economic growth. This is particularly important in the perspective of the 20th anniversary of the creation of the internal market, to be celebrated in 2012, which will be an opportunity not only to summarize the achievements in this field, but also to set new goals. We also want our actions to lead to the implementation of one of the goals set in Single Market Act, which is putting the citizens, and thus consumers, at the heart of the Single  Market.

At a time when Europe needs new sources of growth, consumer protection policy is one of the key areas that can contribute to the overarching objective of Europa 2020 strategy, which is to ensure smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.  Therefore, now more than ever, we need well-protected consumers aware of their rights.

In order to fully benefit from the internal market, the Polish Presidency will also focus on stregthening functioning and harmonizing the Europan market surveillance system, aiming at ensuring protection of consumers interests and "level playing field" and equal treatement of entrepreneurs from across the Union. Effective and improved market surveillance guarantees deepening of the Single Market, which in turn is a key element in enabling the EU to return onto the path of economic growth.