On November 28, 2019, the European Commission released its 2019 edition of the Consumer Conditions Scoreboard. It shows that the overall gap in consumer conditions is narrowing between the different regions of the EU; that consumers are more aware about their environmental footprint; and that consumer rules enable trust in the marketplace.
Věra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality said: “The latest figures show that over 70% of consumers trust retailers to respect their rights, but they also show that work to improve consumer conditions and trust must continue. And the New Deal for Consumers will indeed further strengthen the hand of consumers and authorities. I am glad to see that consumers are increasingly aware of their environmental footprint when shopping. As the Christmas season approaches, I encourage all consumers to engage with trustworthy traders, know their rights, and indeed buy responsibly.”
– Amid growing awareness of climate warming and global plastic contamination, the survey finds that an increasing proportion of EU consumers consider the environmental impact of their purchases. The more environmentally conscious EU consumers are those in southern (59%) and eastern European countries (57%). A clear majority of retailers (71%) think that environmental claims made for products or services in their sector are reliable.
– Consumer conditions decline in Western Europe, but continue to improve in other parts of the EU, with southern and eastern EU countries narrowing the gap with the EU average. However, the difference between the highest scoring country (Sweden, with 71 %) and the lowest (Croatia, with 53 %) remains significant.
– Over 70 % of EU consumers trust retailers to respect their consumer rights. Mirroring this trend, more than 70 % of retailers find it easy to comply with consumer legislation. In addition, most EU retailers assess positively the enforcement of consumer and product safety legislation in their sector. The highest marks go to enforcement of product safety legislation, where three quarters of retailers appreciate the monitoring work of public authorities.
– Consumers buying online has reached around 60 % in 2018 and continues to progress in spite of strong disparities ranging from 84 % in Denmark to around 20 % in Romania and Bulgaria. However, consumers’ trust in buying cross-border from other EU countries (48 %) is significantly lower than in domestic online buying (72 %).
The Consumer Conditions Scoreboard monitors national conditions for consumers in three areas:
1. knowledge and trust
2. compliance and enforcement
3. complaints and dispute resolution
It also examines progress in the integration of the EU retail market and in e-commerce. Its main data sources are representative surveys with consumers and with retailers in EU Member States, as well as Iceland and Norway.
The most recent data gathered by the Commission (40 markets surveyed) shows that consumers’ assessment of markets in 2017 continues the positive trend since 2010. However, the report also reveals that only 53 % of consumers trust that businesses in the services sectors comply with consumer rules.
Consumers assess markets positively when they trust providers to respect their rights, suffer little detriment from problems encountered, find offers on the market easy to compare, are happy with the choice available and generally consider their
Markets improve most in Eastern Europe
Since 2015, on average the biggest improvements in performance have been reported in Eastern Europe, in line with the strong increases observed in previous scoreboard editions. This suggests that the east-west gap in how markets work for consumers may be subsiding. Markets in Western Europe systematically perform better for consumers, while the south lags behind, particularly for telecoms, utilities and banking services.
Nonetheless, compared to 2010, for most markets the performance across countries is not converging, in particular for electronic products, postal services and internet services.