Special Session Summary Consumer Policy in Europe



Citation:

Benedicte Federspiel (1995) ,"Special Session Summary Consumer Policy in Europe", in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 2, eds. Flemming Hansen, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 282.

European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 2, 1995      Page 282

SPECIAL SESSION SUMMARY

CONSUMER POLICY IN EUROPE

Benedicte Federspiel, The Danish Consumer Council

SUMMARIES OF THE PRESENTATIONS

(The paper by Eivind St° is included in the Proceedings in full)

 

CONSUMER LEGISLATION IN THE EUROPEAN UNION

Benedicte Federspiel, The Danish Consumer Council

During the first many years of the European Union, consumer legislation dealt with traditional topics, e.g., misleading marketing practices (but not unfair marketing), unfair contract terms, credit sales, product safety, and product liability. Later came legislation on time share, travel contracts, data protection, etc. The notion of the internal market led to legislation on insurance and banking and in particular harmonization of legislation regarding food additives and other hazardous products.

For countries already equipped with a high level of consumer protection most of this legislation did not bring much that was new. In many cases, it forced these countries to back down from more stringent legislation, either by direct changes in the pertinent laws or through pressure from market forces, much to the dismay of consumer organizations. In short: Countries in Southern Europe have achieved something, as they previously lacked far-reaching legislation, whereas countries in Northern Europe feel that they have had to pay a price for the harmonization of the consumer sector.

 

CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR RESEARCH AS A BASIS FOR CONSUMER POLICY; THE CASE OF ENVIRONMENTAL POLICIES IN THE HOUSEHOLD SECTOR

Folke +lander, Aarhus School of Business

It is fair to say that empirical, social science research, be it in the behavioural sciences or in consumer economics, has not played a very important role in the development of public consumer policy in Denmark or in Europe as a whole. Some of the reasons for this state of affairs were given in the presentation. Consumer researchers have usually chosen other constituencies, funding of applied research with a consumer policy perspective is typically quite difficult, and there is a communication problem in that the practitioners of consumer policy (in public agencies and consumer organizations) do not always see what use they can make of academic research in our field. Nor have consumer researchers been very eager to provide factual or theoretical input on which better and more effective policies could be based.

A case where there seems to be hope for, and also signs of, an increased use of social science research in the implementation of consumer policy, at least as far as the Nordic countries are concerned, was then described, viz., environmental policies in the household sector. Much organized consumer action in this area is directed at industry or at governments and bureaucracy at various levels, but environmental policy also has to do with influencing consumer themselves to alter their behaviour, by information and education, by legal regulation, and by financial incentives and disincentives. In the presentation, examples were given of Danish research intended to assist the development of such instruments (mainly in the field of waste handling and source separation), and a frame of reference was presented which tries to depict three classes of determinants which usually interact in order to produce consumer behaviour with an environmental impact: motivation, ability, and opportunity.

 

INFORMATIVE LABELLING - A DANISH APPROACH

Helga M°ller, The Danish Institute for Informative Labeling

The Danish Institute for Informative Labelling is the result of cooperation between industry, consumers, and the retail trade. The objective is to "strive for voluntary use of informative labelling of consumer goods and of services for consumers." It is, as far as we know, the only one of its kind in the world.

The Institute provides labelling for all kinds of goods - foodstuffs and non-food. All the information in the declaration is controlled by the Institute. The declarations are called "VAREFAKTA" and have their own symbol, which is placed on each declaration.

An explanatory videotape on VAREFAKTA and The Danish Institute for Informative Labelling in English, French, or German may be borrowed by contacting Dansk Varefakta Nµvn, Amagerfµlledvej 56, DK-2300 Copenhagen S, Denmark.

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Authors

Benedicte Federspiel, The Danish Consumer Council



Volume

E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 2 | 1995



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