Consumers in the Internal Market cannot always count on an honest stance from all enterprises. Prior to the adoption of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (‘UCPD’) in 2005, regulation to deal with such practices was partly at national level, and partly harmonised at EU level.
The UCPD provides for full (maximum) harmonisation, which means that Member States are no longer allowed to introduce or maintain a higher level of consumer protection rules in this area of the law.
The UCPD contains a general ban on unfair practices, as well as specific rules addressing various types of such practices. Furthermore, a ‘black list’ of unfair practices is annexed to the Directive.
The UCPD seeks to protect the ‘average EU consumer’, taking into account practices addressed at specific groups of consumers, as well as the need for special protection of vulnerable persons such as children.
Not all Member States implemented the UCPD on time, and the regulatory techniques used in national legal systems vary to a significant degree.
Despite that, in its 2013 communication the Commission has expressed satisfaction with the effects of the UCPD. It sees opportunities to enhance its enforcement in closer cooperation with national authorities including through greater monitoring of their activity.