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Fernand Van Gansbeke DG Enforcement and Mediation Belgium. Enforcing Consumer Protection Legislation The Belgian Experience . 1. Introduction. Belgium : federal state - Kingdom 10,1 mio inhabitants (91 % Belgians) 3 languages (61 % Dutch - 38 % French - <1% German)

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fernand van gansbeke dg enforcement and mediation belgium

Fernand Van GansbekeDG Enforcement and MediationBelgium

Enforcing Consumer Protection Legislation

The Belgian Experience

1 introduction
1. Introduction
  • Belgium : federal state - Kingdom
  • 10,1 mio inhabitants (91 % Belgians)
  • 3 languages (61 % Dutch - 38 % French - <1% German)
  • 3 federate states (Flanders - Wallonia and Brussels Capital Region)
  • 10 provinces + Brussels Capital Region
  • 26 judicial districts
  • 589 municipalities

Thessaloniki (Greece) - 22 - 24 November 2004

2 dg enforcement mediation organisation
2. DG Enforcement & MediationOrganisation
  • Market Surveillance : a federal matter
  • DG Enforcement & Mediation (part of the F.P.S. Economy)
  • > 35 Acts and 250 Decrees
  • DG Enforcement & Mediation =

economic and administrative police

(under supervision Minister and Public Prosecutor)

    • Central offices and 7 regional offices
    • 310 officers (200 field officers)

Thessaloniki (Greece) - 22 - 24 November 2004

3 market surveillance in general
3. Market Surveillance in general
  • Importance of market surveillance and consumer protection for the market economy
  • The larger market due to globalisation
  • The importance of international cooperation
  • The necessary links between public authority, consumers and the economic agents.

Thessaloniki (Greece) - 22 - 24 November 2004

4 protection of c onsumers economic interests
4. Protection of Consumers’Economic Interests
  • Amsterdam Treatyhorizontal policy in the EU
  • Priority for the new government
  • Nuclear priority : > 15.000 complaints per year

Thessaloniki (Greece) - 22 - 24 November 2004

5 dg enforcement mediation role 1
5. DG Enforcement & Mediation Role (1)
  • The basic legislation
    • >25 laws and 250 Royal Decrees
      • Trade Practices Act (>40.000 Enquiries/year)
      • Consumer Credit Act (> 1.500 Enquiries/year)
      • Matrimonial Agencies Act
      • Travel Organisation and Intermediation Contract Act
      • Time Sharing Act
      • ...
  • Evolution in priorities

Thessaloniki (Greece) - 22 - 24 November 2004

5 dg enforcement mediation role 2
5. DG Enforcement & Mediation Role (2)
  • How do the enforcers take action ?
    • information
    • prevention - warning procedure
    • repression
      • administrative settement
      • public prosecutor
      • administrative measures.

Thessaloniki (Greece) - 22 - 24 November 2004

6 the role of consumer organisations
6. The role of consumer organisations
  • Advice in individual cases
  • Injunction procedure for the protection of consumer interests
  • Consumer education and information
  • Deliberation with professional organisations

Thessaloniki (Greece) - 22 - 24 November 2004

7 cooperation public authorities and consumer organisations 1
7. Cooperation : Public Authorities and Consumer Organisations (1)
  • Consumer Organisations’ impact
  • Constant dialogue with professional organisations:

--> through the Consumption Council

>250 balanced opinions on consumer items

  • Consumer Information and Education

--> time/place on TV and Radio

Thessaloniki (Greece) - 22 - 24 November 2004

7 cooperation public authorities and consumer organisations 2
7. Cooperation : Public Authorities and Consumer Organisations (2)
  • Elaboration of Model Contracts (together with professional organisations), with mediation systems

(--> support from Public Authority)

  • No direct subsidies from the Public Authorities in order to maintain the independency
  • The ‘CRIOC’ : study and rechearch center for the Consumer Organisations

--> technical support for C.O.

--> training and information for C.O.

Thessaloniki (Greece) - 22 - 24 November 2004

8 international cooperation
8. International cooperation
  • Globalisation of economy
  • European internal market
    • Bilateral cooperation
      • Protocols FR - UK - LUX - HU
      • Pragmatic NL - DU
    • Multilateral cooperation
      • International Consumer Protection &

Enforcement Network (ICPEN)

Thessaloniki (Greece) - 22 - 24 November 2004

9 latest trends in consumer protection e commerce
9. Latest trends in consumer protection - e-commerce
  • The dilemma
  • Surveying the internet
  • Regulatory Framework :Trade Practices Act

+ Law on e-commerce

  • Growing number of consumer complaints

Thessaloniki (Greece) - 22 - 24 November 2004

10 consumer protection in e c ommerce 1
10. Consumer protection ine-commerce (1)
  • Circumstances
    • Need for protection against new impostors
    • Special unities with enforcement services
  • Specific strategy for controlling e-commerce
    • 2 search teams of 6 officers each
    • a search day per week in special internet lab
    • registration of findings, copy of illegal items
    • warning and follow-up, or repression

Thessaloniki (Greece) - 22 - 24 November 2004

10 consumer protection in e commerce 2
10. Consumer Protection in e-commerce (2)
  • Technology
    • Specialised research modules
    • Identification
    • Registration
    • Inspection

Thessaloniki (Greece) - 22 - 24 November 2004

10 consumer protection in e commerce 3
10. Consumer Protection in e-commerce (3)
  • Findings and results after 3,5 years of exercice
    • > 3500 Belgian commercial sites examined
    • 1154 breach records -> 529 warning procedures
    • > 120 repressive actions
  • Future
    • sites aimed at the Belgian market
    • sites responding on Belgian visitors

Thessaloniki (Greece) - 22 - 24 November 2004

11 conclusions
11. Conclusions
  • Authorities, professional and consumer organisations have all an important role to play
  • Cross-border consumption --> need for international administrative enforcement cooperation
  • Welcome the regulation on Consumer Protection Cooperation

Thessaloniki (Greece) - 22 - 24 November 2004

slide29

Fernand T.G. VAN GANSBEKEDG Enforcement & MediationWTC 3 - Office 9-050Boulevard Simon Bolivar 30B- 1000 BRUSSELSPhone : +32-2.208.39.17Fax : +32-2.208.39.15Email : fernand.vangansbeke@mineco.fgov.beWebsite : www.mineco.fgov.be

Thessaloniki (Greece) - 22 - 24 November 2004