EU and international Which? is committed to getting the best for consumers. In a globalised market, we need to campaign at an international level.
With goods and services traded around the world, our research and campaigning needs to look beyond the national level.
Which? aims to put consumer interests at the heart of EU policy and decision-making processes.
We work for a well-functioning European single market, combining high levels of consumer protection, health and safety with effective competition and choice, so that consumers can shop with confidence at home and across borders. We also seek to influence the EU position in international negotiations.
We also work with our European sister organisation BEUC (the European Consumer Organisation) which brings together over forty consumer organisations from across Europe to represent common consumer interests to the EU institutions.
Our objectives include:
- Food: improvements to food safety and EU-wide measures to tackle the problem of obesity and diet-related disease, in particular we're calling for action to , and to improve nutrition labelling on food packaging
- Financial services: a single market in financial services, in which consumers can save, invest and borrow with confidence
- Health: action to make it easier for patients to go from one EU country to another for treatment
- Consumer protection: the development of EU consumer policies which enhance consumer rights across the EU and do not undermine national rules
- Redress: a simplified and accessible legal framework to ensure that consumers can access the means for compensation when things go wrong. One way to achieve this is the development of EU wide representative actions – enabling consumers to collectively prosecute sellers or service providers
- Competition: a more open and competitive Europe, with tougher EU competition policies
- Agriculture: radical reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, to end unjustified and inappropriate subsidies.
Which? and EU legislation
We have been involved in discussions on many EU consumer legislative and other proposals since the UK joined the EU in 1973, including the directives on timeshare, package travel, unfair contract terms, consumer guarantees, general product safety, distance selling, misleading advertising and product liability.
Our campaign successes at an EU level include:
- an EC investigation into Apple and major record companies following our complaint that UK consumers are paying around 20 per cent more for downloading iTunes compared to costs in France and Germany
- tighter controls over health and nutrition claims
- EU legislation to crack down on rogue traders and improve cross-border enforcement co-operation
- changes to the EU Block Exemption rules, so that cars can now be sold at car supermarkets and by Internet dealers, and not just through local dealerships
- comprehensive labelling rules for GM foods
- MEPs agreeing to block European Commission proposals to relax controls on the direct advertising of medicines to consumers.
We work closely with the European Commission, UK government and UK MEPs and MPs on these issues. For example in 2004 we hosted a major conference on EU consumer policy priorities, including representatives from Government, EU institutions, politicians and other stakeholders.
We work closely with our counterparts in all regions of the world, which come together under the global umbrella organisation, Consumers International (CI). Consumers' Association was a founding member of CI, which now represents over 220 consumer organisations in 115 countries.
It is through CI that we have representation within international discussions and negotiations over trade, food policy and international standards.
CI website The Consumers International website.
BEUC website Website of the European umbrella group for consumer organisations.