BRUSSELS, 19-3-2015 — /EuropaWire/ — Representatives from consumer organisations, policy-makers and European institutions gathered at the 17th annual conference to discuss new trends in consumption. The European Consumer Day was organised by the European Economic and Social Committee. “My wish for Consumer Day is a consumer-centered European economy“, said the European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Vĕra Jourová, in her opening speech. The Commissioner emphasised the need to raise European citizens’ awareness of consumer law. “Since May last year, we’re running an awareness raising campaign in eight EU Member states to spread the message that consumers have robust rights, both on-line and offline. And we will spread this campaign to 6 more states this year”, added Ms Jourová.
EESC President Malosse pointed out the need to encourage responsible consumption as one of the main aims of the European Consumer Day. “To regain citizens’ trust, we must make the European Union a model of representative but also participatory democracy (art. 11 TEU), in which consumers have a vital role.”President Malosse called on everyone to shoulder responsibility: consumers, through their consumption choices, but also companies, via their production methods. He chose the example of the fight against planned obsolescence of products – a field in which the EESC is a pioneer at the EU level and issued an opinion in 2013 – as a way to make consumers and companies more responsible for environmental protection.
The trend towards more responsible and sustainable consumption was recognised by other speakers at the conference – companies have to meet the growing desire among consumers for healthier and more sustainable lifestyles and their willingness to change their consumption habits. The lifetimes of products and their planned obsolescence are directly related to more responsible consumption habits.
The opportunities and obstacles of the sharing economy were another topic of interest at the conference. The sharing economy offers attractive and innovative forms of consumption, especially in times of economic crisis. At the same time, the speakers acknowledged that there were challenges, such as building consumers’ trust in order for the sharing economy to work and the need for a legal framework to protect consumers.
The European Economic and Social Committee represents the various economic and social components of organised civil society. It is an institutional consultative body established by the 1957 Treaty of Rome. Its consultative role enables its members, and hence the organisations they represent, to participate in the EU decision-making process. The Committee has 353 members from across Europe, who are appointed by the Council of the European Union.
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