The new Consumer Protection Cooperation Regulation (CPC) was passed on 14 November 2017, with the goal of providing enforcement authorities with additional powers to combat unlawful online practices. The CPC will also help harmonise consumer protection law across the EU. While the CPC is sure to aid compliance, it remains to be seen how far-reaching some of the powers will become, in particular, the website-blocking power referred to below.
The CPC puts an obligation on each Member State to designate one competent authority as single liaison office. These will be responsible for coordinating investigation and enforcement activities relating to any potential infringements.
The competent authorities will be given the power to:
- make test purchases and to carry out mystery shopping;
- adopt interim measures;
- take down websites that are scamming consumers;
- request information from domain registrars and banks so as to detect the identity of the trade responsible; and
- impose penalties and to safeguard consumer compensation in a cross-border context.
A new surveillance mechanism will be implemented that will combine the current CPC system with a wider exchange of necessary information, in order to ensure that any infringements can be detected early. Other entities can also participate in this surveillance system, such as:
- designated bodies and the European Consumer Centres, or entities nominated by the Member States and by the Commission from among consumer organisations; and
- trade associations and other entities with appropriate expertise and legitimate interest in consumer protection.
Finally, the existing biennial reporting obligation will now be replaced with biennial national enforcement plans, to ensure maximum efficiency when combatting infringement.