PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND COUNCIL DIRECTIVE ON CONSUMER PROTECTION IN THE INDICATION OF THE PRICES OF PRODUCTS OFFERED TO CONSUMERS
/* COM/95/276 final - COD 95/0148 */
OJ C 260, 5.10.1995, p. 5–7 (ES, DA, DE, EL, EN, FR, IT, NL, PT, FI, SV)
DA DE EL EN ES FI FR IT NL PT SV
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Proposal for a European Parliament and Council Directive on consumer protection in the indication of the prices of products offered to consumers
(Text with EEA relevance)
COM(95) 276 final - 95/0148(COD)
(Submitted by the Commission on 17 July 1995)
THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION,
Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Community, and in particular Article 129a (2) thereof,
Having regard to the proposal from the Commission,
Having regard to the opinion of the Economic and Social Committee,
Acting in conformity with the procedure provided for in Article 189b of the Treaty establishing the European Community,
1. Whereas consumers must be guaranteed a high level of protection; whereas the Community should contribute thereto by specific actions which provide for adequate information of consumers on the prices of products offered to them;
2. Whereas the Community's programmes for a consumer protection and information policy (1) provide for the establishment of common principles for indicating prices;
3. Whereas these principles have been established by Council Directive 79/581/EEC (2) of 19 June 1979 as amended by Directive 88/315/EEC (3) and Directive 88/314/EEC (4) concerning the indication of prices of foodstuffs and non-food products;
4. Whereas the obligation to indicate the selling price and the price per unit of measurement contributes substantially to improving consumer information by providing consumers with essential data in order to make reasoned choices;
5. Whereas, however, the mechanism adopted included a certain number of exceptions to the general obligation to indicate the unit price, notably when products are marketed in quantities or capacities corresponding to the values of the ranges adopted at Community level;
6. Whereas this link between indication of the unit price of products and standardization of packaging introduced rigidities into the implementation of the mechanism adopted, which has proven overly complex to apply; whereas it is thus necessary to abandon this link in the interests of simplification, without prejudice to the rules governing packaging standardization;
7. Whereas, therefore, account should be taken of all the difficulties encountered in implementing the mechanism provided for in the abovementioned Directives and a new and simplified mechanism proposed which will enable the main objective to be achieved more easily, namely adequate information of consumers;
8. Whereas indicating the selling price and the unit price is the easiest way to enable consumers to evaluate and compare the nature and quality of products in an optimum manner and hence to make informed choices on the basis of simple comparisons;
9. Whereas, therefore, the general obligation to indicate both the selling price and the unit price for all products should be maintained except for products marketed in bulk, where the selling price cannot be determined until the final consumer indicates how much of the product he requires;
10. Whereas only Community-level rules can ensure homogenous and transparent information that will benefit all consumers in the context of the internal market; whereas the new, simplified approach is both necessary and sufficient to achieve this objective;
11. Whereas, moreover, price transparency is a priority in the run-up to Economic and Monetary Union, and must therefore be significantly improved and arrangements made for its entry into effect in good time for the transition to the single currency;
12. Whereas introduction of the single currency will be greatly facilitated by providing consumers with simple yardsticks for comparing the prices of products;
13. Whereas there is a need to take into account the fact that certain products are widely and customarily sold in quantities different from the values of the base quantity referred to in the Directive; whereas it is thus advisable to allow Member States, in certain cases, to authorize that the unit price be indicated in relation to the quantity value which custom has enshrined;
14. Whereas Member States must be free to adapt the obligation to indicate the unit price for certain trades or forms of trade, and also to determine that such indication is not necessary for a certain number of products, when it does not provide useful information for consumers;
15. Whereas Member States should also remain free to waive the obligation to indicate the unit price in the case of products for which such price indication would not be meaningful or would be liable to cause confusion; whereas this is the case notably when indication of the quantity is not a relevant particular for price comparison purposes, or when different products are marketed in the same packaging;
16. Whereas in the case of non-food products, Member States, with a view to facilitating application of the mechanism implemented, are free to draw up a list of products or categories of products for which the obligation to indicate the unit price remains applicable;
17. Whereas trends in distribution methods must be taken into consideration; whereas solutions must be found to permit optimum information of consumers on product prices at the lowest possible marginal cost;
18. Whereas a variable adaptation period should be provided for depending on the economic operators concerned in order to enable them to make the detailed arrangements for indicating unit prices;
19. Whereas particular attention should be paid to the adaptations required in small retail business, notably taking into account technological trends and the envisaged timetable for the introduction of the single currency; whereas to this end the Commission shall present an evaluation report on the situation two years before the final deadline for the general application of the mechanism,
HAVE ADOPTED THIS DIRECTIVE:
The purpose of this Directive is to stipulate indication of the selling price and the price per unit of measurement of products offered by traders to final consumers, so as to facilitate comparison of prices, wherever such comparison is relevant.
For the purpose of this Directive:
(a) 'selling price` means the price for a given quantity of the product;
(b) 'unit price` means the price for one kilogram, one litre, one metre, one square metre or cubic metre of the product or any other quantity which is widely and customarily used in the Member States in the marketing of specific products;
(c) 'products sold in bulk` means products which are not pre-packaged and/or are not measured or weighed except in the presence of the final consumer.
1. The selling price and the unit price shall be indicated for all products referred to in Article 1, subject to the provisions of Article 6.
2. For products sold in bulk, the unit price must be indicated for all products referred to in Article 1, since the selling price cannot be determined prior to the request expressed by the final consumer.
1. The selling price and the unit price must be unambiguous, easily identifiable and clearly legible.
2. The selling price and the unit price shall relate to the final price of the product under the conditions laid down by the Member States.
3. The unit price shall refer to the quantity declared, in accordance with national and Community provisions, and notably net quantities of products.
Member States shall lay down the detailed rules for indicating prices, notably as regards prices applying to quantities that are widely and customarily used, referred to in Article 2 (b).
1. Member States may waive the obligation to indicate the unit price of products for which such indication would not be meaningful because of the products' nature or purpose, and products for which such indication would not provide the consumer with adequate information or would be liable to create confusion.
2. Member States may waive the obligation to indicate the unit price of products for which indication of length, mass or volume is not required by national or Community provisions. This applies in particular to products sold by individual item or singly.
3. With a view to implementing the provisions set out in paragraphs 1 and 2 above, the Member States may, in the case of non-food products, establish a list of the products or product categories to which the obligation to indicate the unit price shall remain applicable.
Member States may provide that the obligation to indicate the unit price of products other than those marketed in bulk which are sold by certain small retail businesses shall apply at the latest by 6 June 2001, if the obligation to indicate the unit price from 7 June 1997
- is likely to constitute an excessive burden for these businesses, or
- is impracticable because of the number of products on sale, the sales area, the nature of the place of sale or specific conditions applicable to certain forms of business, such as certain types of itinerant trade.
Member States shall lay down penalties for infringements of national provisions adopted in application of this Directive, and shall take all necessary measures to ensure that these are enforced. These penalties must be effective, proportionate and dissuasive.
Council Directive 79/581/EEC, as amended by Directive 88/315/EEC and Directive 88/314/EEC shall be repealed with effect from 7 June 1997.
1. Member States shall bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive by 6 June 1997 at the latest. They shall forthwith inform the Commission thereof. The provisions adopted shall be applicable as of 7 June 1997.
2. When Member States adopt these provisions, these shall contain a reference to this Directive or shall be accompanied by such a reference at the time of their official publication. The procedure for such reference shall be adopted by the Member States.
3. Member States shall communicate to the Commission the text of the provisions of national law which they adopt in the field governed by this Directive. In particular, they shall indicate the rules adopted pursuant to Articles 5, 6 and 7, and any later amendments thereto.
4. Member States shall communicate the provisions governing the penalties provided for in Article 8, and any later amendments thereto.
1. The Commission shall, not more than two years after the date referred to in Article 10 (1), submit to the European Parliament and the Council an initial report on the application of the provisions of Article 7.
2. The Commission shall, not more than four years after the date referred to in Article 10 (1), submit to the European Parliament and the Council global report on the application of this Directive.
This Directive is addressed to the Member States.
(1) OJ No C 92, 25. 4. 1975, p. 2 and OJ No C 133, 3. 6. 1981, p. 2.
(2) OJ No L 158, 26. 6. 1979, p. 19.
(3) OJ No L 142, 9. 6. 1988, p. 23.
(4) OJ No L 142, 9. 6. 1988, p. 19.