EU Justice Sub-Committee

Brexit: consumer protection rights

Inquiry status: open Contact us

Oral evidence concluded; report in preparation.

Scope of inquiry

The foundations of EU legislation protecting consumer protection standards can be traced to 1975 when the Member States defined five fundamental consumer protection rights which are now enshrined in Article 169 (TFEU): "In order to promote the interests of consumers and to ensure a high level of consumer protection, the Union shall contribute to protecting the health, safety and economic interests of consumers, as well as to promoting their right to information, education and to organise themselves in order to safeguard their interests". Today, various Articles of the EU Treaties deal with the Member States' desire to legislate for consumer protection. For example, Article 12 TFEU states that: "Consumer protection requirements shall be taken into account in defining and implementing other Union policies and activities" and Article 38 of the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights says that Union policies will ensure a "high level of consumer protection". These principles have formed the basis for a vast range of EU Directives and Regulations that deal with consumer protection rights. A body of European law  estimated to be around 90 pieces of EU legislation which make up the body of EU law designed to protect consumers.

The UK's imminent departure from the EU, and the Government's approach to the negotiation of the terms under which we leave, cast doubt over the continued application of this significant body of EU law that protects the consumer rights of millions of people in the UK. In order to investigate the extent of the shadow hanging over these rights, the EU Justice Sub-Committee, under the chairmanship of Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws, decided to launch an inquiry into Brexit: consumer protection rights.

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