Italian presidency of EU focuses on the consumers

 ROME-The Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) is arranging the International Conference “EU Cooperation for enforcement of consumer legislation”, to take place in Rome on 7th-8th July 2014-The Conference, organized under the Italian presidency of the EU, will be hosted by AGCM and the Ministry of Economic Development, in cooperation with the European Commission.

 During the Conference the discussions will focus on the European political perspective, Member States’ national perspectives, the possibilities and opportunities arising from the Consumer Protection Cooperation Regulation and on e-commerce issues and challenges.

 The leading speaker for the event, after the opening address by professor Giovanni Pitruzzella, AGCM’s Chairman, is Consumer Policy Commissioner Neven Mimica.The conference falls within  an awareness campaign run by the EU Commission at a time when consumers are being given a whole new set of reinforced rights.

 Consumer Policy Commissioner Neven Mimica’s visit in Rome is an effort to improve consumer protection both in Italy and in Europe, under the Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. He focuses on three main areas. First, the need for effective legislation to make consumers safe in the domain of medical devices. Second, the awareness of consumers of their rights and third the effective enforcement of these rights.

 As of June 13, 2014 the Italian Competition Authority is also in charge of the public enforcement of the rules on consumer rights (set forth by Directive 83/2011/EU). As of 2004, the Italian Competition Authority has also been in charge of enforcing laws against conflicts of interest for Holders of Public Office.

 The AGCM, better known as the Antitrust Authority, was established in Italy in 1990. It is an independent body, meaning that all its decisions are based on the law and it is impossible for the Government or for any political parties to interfere.

 Having citizens’ welfare as their main priority, the AGCM enforces those rules that prohibit anticompetitive agreements among undertakings, abuse of dominant position as well as any possible mergers that may create or strengthen dominant positions detrimental to competition.

 Consumers are often faced with situations where they are misled, unsure of what they were buying, or have simply changed their minds. This is even more the case when shopping online. Buying services and products online has become much easier, however, it's important that citizens feel safe when making use of these opportunities. The rights granted by EU legislation are only useful if people – both consumers and businesses - are aware of them.

 The awareness raising campaign, led by Vice President Reding and Commissioner Mimica, aims to inform citizens about key consumer rights such as: the right to have defective goods repaired or replaced; the right to return something bought on-line during the first 14 days after purchase; the right to receive helpful advice in your own country and language if you have a dispute with a trader from another EU country; the right to get true and complete statements on the nature of products and services and on all the costs involved and the right to have accessible contracts, with clear and understandable conditions.

 The campaign focuses on the countries where awareness of consumer rights is low according to the latest Consumer Scoreboard: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Latvia Poland, Portugal and Spain. There will in addition be a specific campaign for the European Union's newest Member State, Croatia.