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General framework for Community activities in favour of consumers


To establish a general framework of activities and priorities relating to consumer policy and consumer health protection, on the basis of which specific projects can be adopted and receive Community support.


Decision No 283/1999/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 January 1999 establishing a general framework for Community activities in favour of consumers


General objectives and approach

The decision establishes, at Community level, a general framework for activities promoting the interests of consumers and providing them with a high level of protection. Actions must help protect the health, safety and economic interests of consumers and promote their right to receive information and education and to join forces in order to protect their interests.

This general framework covers a five-year period (1 January 1999 to 31 December 2003). It is being allocated an amount of EUR 112.5 million for this period. It will be open to the associated countries of Central and Eastern Europe, as well as Cyprus and the countries of the European Economic Area.

The activities covered by this decision comprise:

  • measures taken by the Commission to supplement the policies of the Member States;
  • measures in support of the activities of European consumer organisations;
  • measures in support of external initiatives to promote consumers' interests.

The Commission must ensure consistency with other Community programmes and initiatives.

The decision identifies four areas requiring action at Community level:

  • the health and safety of consumers as regards products and services;
  • protecting the economic and legal interests of consumers, including access to dispute resolution;
  • educating and informing consumers about their protection and rights;
  • promotion and representation of the interests of consumers.

Implementing arrangements

Support may be granted to European consumer organisations which:

  • are non-governmental, non-profit organisations whose main objectives are to promote and protect the interests and health of consumers;
  • have been mandated to represent the interests of consumers at European level by organisations that are representative of the consumers of at least half the Member States and are active at national or regional level;
  • are active in the areas listed above.

Financial support may not exceed 50% of the total cost of the measure.

Any natural or legal person or association of natural persons that acts independently of industry and commerce and is actually responsible for the implementation of the projects, where the main objectives of these projects are to promote and protect the interests and health of consumers, may be granted financial support of up to 50% of the total cost of the project, excluding operating expenditure not directly linked to the project.

Unpaid work or donations in kind may be taken into account, up to a level of 20 % of total eligible costs.

In order to receive financial support, projects must offer:

  • a satisfactory level of cost-effectiveness;
  • an added value ensuring a high and uniform level of consumer representation;
  • a lasting multiplier effect at European level;
  • effective and balanced cooperation between the various partners;
  • development of lasting transnational cooperation;
  • wide dissemination of results;
  • evidence of ability to carry out analysis and evaluation.

Procedures, evaluation and monitoring

Each year, the Commission will publish calls for projects in the Official Journal of the European Communities. After examining the proposals received, it will select those to financial support will be allocated.

The Commission must ensure the monitoring and supervision of effective implementation of the activities it supports. It must also ensure that the measures financed by the Community are evaluated regularly.

If irregularities are detected or if a project has developed in a manner which is no longer in keeping with the agreed objectives, the Commission may reduce, suspend or recover the financial assistance it has granted for that project.

If a project is not completed by the agreed date, the Commission may cancel the balance of financial assistance and require sums already paid to be returned.

The Commission submits an annual report on the implementation of this general framework of activities in favour of consumers. Besides, by 30 June 2002 at the latest the Commission must submit an evaluation report to the European Parliament and the Council on the first three years of implementation of activities under the general framework.

4) deadline for implementation of the legislation in the member states

5) date of entry into force (if different from the above)


6) references

Official Journal L 34, 09.02.1999

7) follow-up work

8) commission implementing measures