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Minister Počivalšek and EU ministers on consumer policyDodaj Novica

Minister of Economic Development and Technology Zdravko Počivalšek participated in an informal videoconference of EU ministers responsible for consumer protection. The first part of the meeting was devoted to political debate on consumer policy and an exchange of views and experiences. In the second part of the meeting, Minister Počivalšek, at the request of the Portuguese Presidency, presented the priorities of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU in the area of consumer protection.

The debate in the first part of the meeting focused on the operational priorities of the New Consumer Agenda as starting points for political debate on consumer policy and approaches to the economy, including an exchange of views, experiences and good practices in terms of practical and specific consumer protection policy. In their interventions, the ministers referred to the New Consumer Agenda, the Council conclusions of 22 February 2021, and the conclusions of the workshops in the framework of the European Consumer Summit, which was held a day before the ministerial meeting and was attended by State Secretary Simon Zajc.

Slovenia supports a coordinated and balanced EU approach

Minister Počivalšek said: "It is essential to maintain a balanced and coordinated approach to consumer protection policy at the EU level. Rapid, effective and timely joint action that is based on inclusion and cooperation is needed to support the internal market and public policy development." In this regard, the Minister highlighted an example from national practice: through workshops on consumer lending held as part of the public service of educating and informing consumers, it was established that consumers are well aware of their rights, but in practice fail to recognise potential threats, which are all the more significant during this pandemic period.

In Slovenia's opinion, the introduction of digitalisation and cross-border online shopping require additional solutions for the protection of consumers, which can be provided through cooperation and exchange between the Consumer Protection Network, the European Consumer Centres Network, and national stakeholders – and their effective action in the event of violations. The new regulation to strengthen cooperation between EU national authorities responsible for consumer protection has also contributed to this process. This is the right path to more coordinated and effective enforcement at the EU level, explained the Minister. That is why, as part of digitalisation, Slovenia strongly supports the revision of the Consumer Credit Directive and the General Product Safety Directive and the negotiations on the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act with a view to increasing consumer protection with an emphasis on new digital products, new online loan providers, and the upgrading of security rules for digital platforms. "For a safe and smooth transition to green and digital, it is necessary to empower consumers to promote sustainable production and consumption through their purchases. In this regard, we highlight the importance of educating consumers and raising their awareness, promoting the operation of consumer organisations at the EU level, and strengthening the competent authorities," added Minister Počivalšek.

Priorities of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU

As part of presenting the priorities of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU in the area of consumer protection, Minister Počivalšek stressed that Slovenia would strive for a strong, united and effective EU that is able to address internal and external challenges in seeking appropriate solutions for EU citizens.  "Our goal is to make the internal market more resilient and competitive with an emphasis on the development of the digital and green dimensions. In cooperation with the European Commission and Member States, we will focus on developing a coordinated European consumer policy to increase the protection of consumer rights and consumers' trust, facilitate the transition to a circular and digital economy, and effectively address the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic," said Minister Počivalšek.

The Minister also stressed that Slovenia would continue negotiations on the digital services package and the proposal on artificial intelligence, which will provide consumers with lower prices, more choice and greater security, but with an emphasis on the effective legal protection of consumers and increased international cooperation to raise the awareness of both consumers and companies.