The Single European Market
The Single Market was established in 1993 and since then the necessity to harmonize the European economies and the idea to create a monetary union have become concrete realities.
Physical, custom and administrative barriers have fallen, but there are still sectors that have not been fully harmonized yet.
Nowadays 28 Member States mean a Single Market of almost 500 million consumers. And Single Market means freedom of movement of goods, people and capitals. Thanks to the Schengen agreement most internal borders have been abolished and controls have been strengthened at the external borders. People can move freely within the EU and can work and live in another country. However some issues persist: recognition of academic and professional titles is still complicated, just to give an example.
The first time, at European level, were made official the fundamental rights of consumers was in 1975 with the preliminary program for a consumer protection policy and consumer information. The program included: the right to health and safety; right to protection of economic interests; right to compensation for damage; right to information and education; right to representation.
Over the years by a series of important statements generic but it has gone to a more precise delineation of the interests and rights of consumers, primarily on the different national contexts and, secondly, of the Community.
Thanks to the Single Market consumers can make purchases from another country and save some money without having to pay custom rights. Also the creation of the Euro has facilitated crossborder purchases, because it eliminated the currency exchange rate between all the country using the Euro.
Competition has improved and as a consequence prices have decreased and the quality and the choice of goods has increased.
Information about consumer protection in Europe can be found in this pdf document (Consumer Protection in the European Union - Ten Basic Principles) or in the ConsumerClassroom Website
Consumer law and basic principles in Italy
In Italy the reference law is the Consumption Code of 23rd October 2005. The Code aims at protecting consumers, individuals and groups, in all contractual processes they take part in.
Know the Code is to know your rights as a consumer, that is, the rules which govern many situations of our consumers daily (from advertising and aggressive marketing, the purchase of goods and services to sales on the Internet; from consumer credit to the holidays; etc.).
Here are the basic rights of consumers and users that are listed in Article 2 of the Code:
➔ health protection;
➔ product and service safety;
➔ adequate information and correct advertising;
➔ exercice of commercial practices according to principles of good faith, correctness and loyalty;
➔ education to consumption;
➔ correctness, transparency and equity in contractual relations;
➔ promotion and development of free associationism between consumers and users;
➔ delivery of quality and efficient public services.