2015 marks the 10 years anniversary of the network of European Consumer Centres (ECC-Net) established in all 28 Member States of the European Union, Norway and Iceland and co-funded by the EU consumer Programme. Over the last 10 years, ECCs received more than 650,000 requests for information about their EU consumer rights – up 30 % between 2012 and 2014, and assisted about 300,000 consumers to deal with specific complaints relating to a cross border purchase– up 16 % in the same period. More than two thirds of these complaints could be resolved in an amicable manner between consumers and traders.
On 2 June 2015, at the European Parliament in Brussels, launching an exhibition highlighting the ECC-Net achievements, Commissioner Jourová said: “Consumer policy is high on the Commission’s agenda given its important contribution to the Juncker Commission’s priority projects. A strong and coherent consumer policy is crucial in reaping the full benefits of the Digital Single Market-for both consumers and businesses. With more and more consumers shopping online, the ECCs’ role in resolving cross-border disputes will become more important than ever in advising consumers, and ensuring that their rights are upheld and that they can have full trust in the digital economy.”
The ECC-Net promotes the understanding of EU consumers' rights, and assists in resolving complaints about purchases made in another country of the network, when travelling or shopping online. In the last decade, with the steady development of tourism within the EU and of e-commerce, the ECC-Net has become key to assisting consumers and traders make the most of the Single Market: in 2014, there were over 3,5 million visits to their web sites.
More than two thirds of the complaints received by the ECC-Net today are about cross border e-commerce, reflecting the interest of consumers in a well-functioning Digital Single Market. Estimates suggest that consumers could save massive amounts – around 12 billion euro a year – taking advantage of the full range of goods and services available on-line in the EU. The ECC-Net is therefore an important element to promote and inform on the progress of the EU Digital Single Market Strategy just adopted by the European Commission, as it relates to online retail trade.