European Consumer Centres Network in Europe (ECC-Net)
In Europe without borders, with the rising activity of enterprises and consumers there is a need for a generally-European exchange of information and consulting. In order to solve quickly, inexpensively and efficiently the cross-border disputes in countries belonging to the European Union, Norway and Island, there exist European Consumer Centres (ECC) associated into one net ECC-Net.
European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net) is a network covering the whole European Union, Norway and Island, founded in order to advise the citizens on the issues of their consumer rights and organise an easy access to compensation procedures, especially in cross-border cases. A new network was founded in 2005 in the result of merging two previously existing networks: European Consumer Centres, in other words referred to as "Euroguichets", which made the information available and provided support in cross-border cases and European Extra Judicial Network (EEJ-Net)
The mission of European Consumer Centres is to provide the consumers with a complete service starting from information concerning their consumer rights and ending with the aid in taking into consideration their complaints and settlement of disputes. European Consumer Centres Network helps consumers to use the possibilities which are created by unified market of the European Union without threat to their health, safety and economic interests.
Tasks of European Consumer Centre Network
- Informing consumers about the possibilities which are created by Unified Market of the European Union;
- Aid in solving individual problems/consumer complaints related to cross-border transactions;
- Helping consumers in using extra-court procedures of disputing settlement of the pan-European scope;
- Help in easy and aware use of these procedures in cross-border context;
- Cooperation inside the network as well as with other European networks such as:FIN-NET (Financial Network), SOLVIT and European Judicial network in civil and commercial matters;
- Providing information on domestic and E.U legislation and jurisdiction;
- Providing comparative analyses within prices, legislation and other issues which are significant for consumers;
- Providing for the European Commission information on consumer problems in the E.U.
ECC - Net The European Consumer Centre Network operates on the territory of the European Union, Norway and Island.
History of the development of European Consumer Centres Network
European Centres Network (ECC-Net)
European Consumer Centres Network, commonly called Euroguichets in countries belonging to the European Union, has been existing since 1992. These entities were conducting information, advisory and promotional campaign in the area of consumer issues. ECC-net aimed at breaking the ice among consumers in relation to active participation in Unified European Market.
In the time of free flow of goods, people, services and finances, the E.U market creates many possibilities which are more and more often used by the citizens of Europe. Especially within:
- purchase of goods by consumers and exchange of services within conducted travels,
- purchase of goods or ordering services at commercial representatives organising business trips in the E.U countries,
- ordering and purchase of goods in other European countries by means of modern techniques of distance sale, especially by electronic way,
- trading with money between countries in order to make payment for goods or make investment.
Additionally, a unified market requires systemising present domestic legal orders in order to harmonise law and efficient consumer protection irrespectively of the country of residence within the E.U. The activities of ECC allow for identification of new legal problems and give a fuller picture of problems, which the consumers are troubled with.
European Extra Judicial Network (EEJ-net)
In the E.U member states, Norway and Island since 2001 there has been developed EEJ-Net, which purpose was to help and advise consumers in the implementation of their rights within the disputes settlement of (cross-border cases). These centres were functioning as a network which allowed for effective exchange of information and effective actions. At first, it was an annual pilot project. Later on, it was prolonged until 2003.
The activity of EEJ-Net stood for informing consumers about the existence of ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms, out-of-court-settlement of consumer disputes), also including the aid in completion of complaint forms, gathering of required documents, indicating proper courts and finding legal ground, then monitoring the course of dispute. These were so-calledClearing House.
New stage in the organisation of aid to European consumers
At the beginning of 2005 there took place a merge of both above-described networks, i.e. ECC-Net z EEJ-Net. asks and projects conducted within certain networks were coordinated and entrusted to united network of European Consumer Centres.
The new European Consumer Agenda
The new European Consumer Agenda, which has replaced the ec.europa.eu/consumers/overview/cons_policy/doc/EN_99.pdf, is strategic vision for EU consumer Policy. Agenda aims to maximise consumer participation and trust in the market.
One of the objectives of the program is to strengthen The European Consumer Centres’ Network in order to better inform consumers about their rights when shopping cross-border and assist them when they become entangled in cross-border disputes.
The European Commission also lists “10 better deals for 500 million Consumers”, among others, next to the ODR – online dispute resolution platform or elimination of roaming charges, there is information about the assistance provided by The European Consumer Centres’ Network explaining that two thirds of cases dealt with by the ECC-Net had a positive outcome.A European Consumer Agenda - Boosting confidence and growth 10 better deals for 500 million Consumers
European Consumer Centre (ECK) in Poland
European Consumer Centre in Poland (ECK) was founded in January 2005, pursuant to agreement of European Commission with the Competition and Consumer Protection Office (UOKiK). The project is financed from the funds of the European Union and the Competition and Consumer Protection Office. ECC in Warsaw is a network member of European Consumer Centres(ECC-Net).
ECC is an expert group, tightly cooperating with European and domestic organisations of consumer protection. ECC is at the same time a connector between individual consumers living in the E.U member countries and various organisations and institutions solving certain problems of consumers.
After Poland's joining the European Union in May 2004, among Polish consumers there is a growing demand for knowledge on the market of goods and services available in other member states, Norway and Island. ECC is trying to popularise the possibilities created for the consumer by a unified market of the European Union, as well as to help in asserting consumer rights within a unified market.
ECC provides a wide access to information as well as disseminates the consumer subject matter. It joins domestic projects (informing and providing advice) with the E.U. ones (cross-border cases and providing advice in relation to other E.U member states).
- Building consumers' knowledge by transferring information on available legal means in the country and in other E.U member states, Norway and Island;
- Legal consulting;
- Inspection of (cross-border cases);
- Popularisation of out-of-court/amicable possibilities of disputes settlement (ADR);
- Conducting, together with media, actions of consumer subject matter;
- Supporting information campaigns on the Community level;
- Gathering detailed information about E.U institutions and certain legal systems of member states and history of consumer law;
- Informing entrepreneurs and other opinion-making groups of rights and duties of consumers;
- Conducting education and information campaigns;
- Close cooperation within the Europe (ECC-Net);
- Cooperation with other European networks, including especially Solvit and Fin-net. Solvit i FIN-NET.
The ECC tasks don't cover:
- Inspection of disputes between entrepreneur and entrepreneur.
- Inspection of cases between Polish consumer and Polish entrepreneur.
- Inspection of cases out of the territory of the European Union, Norway and Island.
European Consumer Centre in Poland is an expert group, which composes of:
Karol Muż - Lawyer, coordinator of case handling
Magdalena Krużyńska - Lawyer
Magda Witan - Consumer advisor
Katarzyna Słupek - PR Officer
Joanna Sołtan - Secretary
Piotr Esse - IT Expert/Webmaster