Title Original Language:
Brexit: will consumers be protected?
Abstract Original Language:
This report highlights our concerns about the Government’s approach to the negotiation of the UK’s post-Brexit participation in the important areas of EU cooperation that help protect consumers’ rights. Beyond advocating a deep and special relationship with the EU post-Brexit, the Minister was unable to provide us with any detail as to how the Government might secure, post-Brexit, the UK’s access to a range of cross-border mechanisms and infrastructure that facilitate and encourage cooperation between the various national bodies responsible for protecting consumers. During the UK’s membership of the European Union, the EU and the UK have shared the responsibility to legislate to protect consumers’ rights. In total, over the last 40 years, this body of law, the so-called EU’s consumer protection acquis, has grown to encompass around 90 European Directives that apply across the Single Market. The rights enshrined in these Directives enable all consumers to seek redress for any poor service they receive, for instance, when they hire a car; book a holiday; eat in a restaurant; purchase a product; or stay in a sub-standard hotel at home or in another EU Member State. While the Government’s EU (Withdrawal) Bill will succeed in mirroring the individual consumer rights that operate within the EU in domestic law, it cannot ensure the protection of UK consumers’ rights when they visit the EU 27 post-withdrawal. Nor can it guarantee the UK’s continued access to the EU’s shared network of agencies, mechanisms and infrastructure that police, secure, develop and underpin consumer rights across the Single Market. The UK has had considerable influence within the field of consumer protection hitherto, and it is important that its access to this EU network should be maintained post-Brexit. The Minister was unable to provide us with any plan as to how the Government will successfully secure the UK’s continued participation in these key areas of EU cooperation post-Brexit. Eighteen months after the referendum, we question whether the Government has given any thought to finding a solution to this problem at all. We call on the Government to produce as a matter of urgency a clear plan as to how bodies such as the Competition and Markets Authority and national regulators, in collaboration with similar national bodies in the EU 27, can continue to access, cooperate and engage with this important EU infrastructure, continue to access, cooperate and engage with this important EU infrastructure, which has protected and secured the interests of UK consumers for more than 40 years.