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Fernand Van Gansbeke DG Enforcement and Mediation Belgium Enforcing Consumer Protection Legislation The Belgian Experience.

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Presentation on theme: "Fernand Van Gansbeke DG Enforcement and Mediation Belgium Enforcing Consumer Protection Legislation The Belgian Experience."— Presentation transcript:

1 Fernand Van Gansbeke DG Enforcement and Mediation Belgium Enforcing Consumer Protection Legislation The Belgian Experience

2 Thessaloniki (Greece) November Introduction Belgium : federal state - Kingdom 10,1 mio inhabitants (91 % Belgians) 3 languages (61 % Dutch - 38 % French - <1% German) 3 federate states (Flanders - Wallonia and Brussels Capital Region) 10 provinces + Brussels Capital Region 26 judicial districts 589 municipalities

3 Thessaloniki (Greece) November DG Enforcement & Mediation Organisation Market Surveillance : a federal matter DG Enforcement & Mediation (part of the F.P.S. Economy) > 35 Acts and 250 Decrees DG Enforcement & Mediation = economic and administrative police (under supervision Minister and Public Prosecutor) Central offices and 7 regional offices 310 officers (200 field officers )

4 Thessaloniki (Greece) November Market Surveillance in general Importance of market surveillance and consumer protection for the market economy The larger market due to globalisation The importance of international cooperation The necessary links between public authority, consumers and the economic agents.

5 Thessaloniki (Greece) November Protection of Consumers Economic Interests Amsterdam Treaty horizontal policy in the EU Priority for the new government Nuclear priority : > complaints per year

6 Thessaloniki (Greece) November DG Enforcement & Mediation Role (1) The basic legislation >25 laws and 250 Royal Decrees Trade Practices Act (> Enquiries/year) Consumer Credit Act (> Enquiries/year) Matrimonial Agencies Act Travel Organisation and Intermediation Contract Act Time Sharing Act... Evolution in priorities

7 Thessaloniki (Greece) November DG Enforcement & Mediation Role (2) How do the enforcers take action ? information prevention - warning procedure repression administrative settement public prosecutor administrative measures.

8 Thessaloniki (Greece) November The role of consumer organisations Advice in individual cases Injunction procedure for the protection of consumer interests Consumer education and information Deliberation with professional organisations

9 Thessaloniki (Greece) November Cooperation : Public Authorities and Consumer Organisations (1) Consumer Organisations impact Constant dialogue with professional organisations: --> through the Consumption Council >250 balanced opinions on consumer items Consumer Information and Education --> time/place on TV and Radio

10 Thessaloniki (Greece) November Cooperation : Public Authorities and Consumer Organisations (2) Elaboration of Model Contracts (together with professional organisations), with mediation systems (--> support from Public Authority) No direct subsidies from the Public Authorities in order to maintain the independency The CRIOC : study and rechearch center for the Consumer Organisations --> technical support for C.O. --> training and information for C.O.

11 Thessaloniki (Greece) November International cooperation þ Globalisation of economy þ European internal market Bilateral cooperation Protocols FR - UK - LUX - HU Pragmatic NL - DU Multilateral cooperation International Consumer Protection & Enforcement Network (ICPEN)

12 Thessaloniki (Greece) November Latest trends in consumer protection - e-commerce The dilemma Surveying the internet Regulatory Framework : Trade Practices Act + Law on e-commerce Growing number of consumer complaints

13 Thessaloniki (Greece) November Consumer protection in e-commerce (1) Circumstances Need for protection against new impostors Special unities with enforcement services Specific strategy for controlling e-commerce 2 search teams of 6 officers each a search day per week in special internet lab registration of findings, copy of illegal items warning and follow-up, or repression

14 Thessaloniki (Greece) November Consumer Protection in e-commerce (2) Technology Specialised research modules Identification Registration Inspection

15 Thessaloniki (Greece) November 2004

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27 10. Consumer Protection in e-commerce (3) Findings and results after 3,5 years of exercice > 3500 Belgian commercial sites examined 1154 breach records -> 529 warning procedures > 120 repressive actions Future sites aimed at the Belgian market sites responding on Belgian visitors

28 Thessaloniki (Greece) November Conclusions Authorities, professional and consumer organisations have all an important role to play Cross-border consumption --> need for international administrative enforcement cooperation Welcome the regulation on Consumer Protection Cooperation

29 Thessaloniki (Greece) November 2004 Fernand T.G. VAN GANSBEKE DG Enforcement & Mediation WTC 3 - Office Boulevard Simon Bolivar 30 B BRUSSELS Phone : Fax : Website :


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