The European consumer policy is a part of a package of initiatives and measures which contributes to the proper functioning of the single market. The objective of the European Union (EU) in this area is to guarantee the consumer’s rights during commercial transactions, providing additional protection of the interests of vulnerable consumers and to ensure the safety of purchased goods and services. This objective can be defined as follows:

• Protecting buyers from serious risks and threats which they cannot manage by themselves;
• Allowing consumers to choose goods and services on the basis of clear, accurate and coherent information;
• Preserving the rights of consumers and give them the possibility to solve disputes with commercial operators both rapidly and efficiently;
• Keeping consumer rights up-to-date, especially in the context of social and economic changes. The focus shall be on the areas of food, energy, financial services, transport and digitalisation.

The European legal framework in this field guarantees minimum standards of protection of consumers, which contrasts with other European policies. When transposing an EU directive in national law, Member States are free to adopt measures which are more restrictive compared to EU law. The main achievements in the area of health and consumers are a high level of protection of consumers’ health and of the safety of products, vehicles, food, cosmetics and pharmaceutical products.

The competence of the EU’s Member States covers both the organisation and the provision of healthcare. However, the EU developed an own strategy, which pursues goals that complement the aims of the member states. The EU’s strategy in the health sector aims at supporting Member States to achieve common objectives, by creating economies of scale in order to be able to tackle common challenges (e.g. pandemics, chronicle diseases, ageing population) together.

The EU health policy is based on the following points:

• Disease prevention: particularly by means of promoting a healthier lifestyle;
• Universal access to high quality treatments and healthcare;
• Search for common solutions of cross-border threats to public health;
• Promotion of “active ageing”;
• Investment in research and innovation for the health sector.

Useful links:

European Commission – Health and Food Safety

European Commission – Consumers

European Parliament – Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee (ENVI)

European Parliament – Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO)

Committee of the Regions – Commission for Natural Resources (NAT)