Former Poros Mayor Appointed to EU Consumer Panel

Informed and confident consumers can better exploit the single market, said Spyros Spyridon during the presentation of the European Union’s Committee of Regions draft opinion to the Commission for Natural Resources in Brussels on October 1.
Spyridon, who served as Poros mayor from 1990 to 2006 and is currently a member of the Attiki Regional Council, presented the draft opinion on behalf of the European Peoples Party.
“The local and regional aspect seems to be missing in the Commission proposal for the new European Consumer Agenda,” he said. “”Local and regional authorities have to be equipped with the right tools to defend consumer rights to the maximum of their powers. In addition to being consumers in their own right, these authorities are regularly called upon to implement and educate on consumer policy.”
Consumer expenditure amounts to approximately 56 per cent of the EU GDP. Europe’s 500 million consumers therefore have a large impact on the European economy. The Commission proposal aims to increase confidence by: reinforcing consumer safety; enhancing knowledge; stepping up enforcement and securing redress; aligning consumer rights and policies to changes in society and in the economy. These objectives are welcomed by the rapporteur who also calls for a horizontal approach so that consumers’ rights are taken into account across the board. He also stressed the need to take specific care to protect vulnerable groups of consumers who experience difficulty in gaining access to markets or broadband, have limited choice or cannot readily exercise their rights. “In these disadvantaged regions, local and regional authorities need to have more resources and know-how to reinforce supervisory mechanisms” he suggested.
Because many of us do not fully know our rights, we may hesitate to buy online or across borders. Consumers and professionals alike have to be fully aware of the rules in place. According to the opinion, the success of the consumer agenda depends on the commitment of all stakeholders. “European, national, regional and local decision makers, professionals and consumer organizations, must all work together to improve knowledge and the trust between producers and consumers” Councilor Spyridon underlined. He concluded by suggesting that the economic circumstances have led to consumers being more vulnerable. The planned budget for the Consumers’ Agenda is limited to approximately EUR 0.05 per citizen per year. “We need to be very cautious and ensure that policies can do more for less” the rapporteur announced.
Following presentations from Olivier Micol and Gösta Petri from the European Commission, who broadly welcomed the draft opinion; it was adopted by the majority of the NAT Commission. It will now go forward for debate at the November Plenary Session.