View from Brussels

Welcome to the View from Brussels which is a monthly blog by Edward Simpson, FLA Head of  Government Affairs, on developments from across The Channel.

27 November 2020

The European Commission is keen to show that it is on the side of the European consumer. Earlier this month, it published a vision for the next five years in the form of a New Consumer Agenda which seeks to address the old challenges along with the new.

The EU will shortly adopt a Directive on Representative Actions to enable collective consumer redress to be initiated across the EU-27 as a response to “Dieselgate” whose impact was felt across the continent and beyond. This will bring it closer in line with more stringent national rules, including those in the UK.

 The Commission expresses concern about the increase in consumer vulnerability during Covid-19, particularly in relation to household finances. The review of the Consumer Credit Directive is therefore timely in this respect. We can anticipate that the Commission’s proposal due out in May 2021 will include provisions for lenders to signpost borrowers in financial difficulty to debt advisers, already common practice in the UK credit market.    

 Brussels believes it can add value to the green and digital transformations taking place. The Commission’s green agenda is extensive ranging from more sustainable food production to improving product durability and making all packaging re-usable and recyclable. It will be interesting to see if the UK draws on any of these measures now that it is outside the bloc. One of the targets is “green-washing”, the practice where a business falsely professes to be environmentally-friendly. The Commission will therefore major on better customer information so that claims can be substantiated.

 The Commission recognises the dangers that online activity presents to consumers. It will therefore review its guidance in relation to thethe Unfair Commercial Practices Directive and the Consumer Rights Directive, to determine whether additional legislation or other action will be needed in the medium-term in order to balance online and offline protections. The advent of AI represents an opportunity but also has scope to harm consumers. European rules will therefore be brought forward to manage this. Other consumer-friendly measures are likely to include a further clamp down on ‘geo-blocking’ which prevents users accessing some digital services, such as pay TV channels, across borders and bringing forward plans for a GDPR-compliant EU-wide public electronic identity to enable consumers to make more use of their personal data.

The von der Leyen Commission is keen to demonstrate the EU’s value to its 450 million citizens. This consumer crusade is at the heart of its strategy.      

View from Brussels - October 2020

22 Oct 2020
In my earlier blogs, I expressed pessimism over the chances of an agreement between Boris Johnson’s Government and the EU on a future relationship. It didn’t bode well as the Prime Minister’s 15 October cut-off for a deal came and went as so many other deadlines have done in the Brexit saga.
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View from Brussels - September 2020

25 Sep 2020
Brussels is trying to forge an identity as a global leader on a number of important themes.
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View from Brussels - August 2020

27 Aug 2020
In May I wrote that “the smart money would be on a ‘no deal’ Brexit at the end of the year.” In the current circumstances, I see no reason to revise my forecast.
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View from Brussels - July 2020

24 Jul 2020
Earlier this week EU leaders agreed a budget for 2021-2027, the first time the Multi-annual Financial Framework has excluded the UK.
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View from Brussels - June 2020

24 Jun 2020
As governments and regulators across Europe consider how they use recovery from the Covid-19 as a force for progress, one of the central components will be the drive towards a greener economy.
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View from Brussels - May 2020

28 May 2020
The deadline for the UK and Brussels to reach agreement on a future relationship is fast approaching.
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View from Brussels - April 2020

30 Apr 2020
Just as countries around the globe have introduced measures to mitigate the impact of Covid-19, on 28 April the European Commission announced a banking package to facilitate lending to households and businesses in the EU.
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View from Brussels - March 2020

31 Mar 2020
Just as the UK Government has put in place measures to mitigate the fallout of the coronavirus on businesses and households so this has been the case on the other side of the English Channel.
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View from Brussels - February 2020

26 Feb 2020
Earlier this month, colleagues and I visited Brussels to better understand the lie of the land post-Brexit.
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View from Brussels - January 2020

28 Jan 2020
As we enter the last few days before the UK leaves the EU, talk has turned to what the future relationship holds.
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Inaugural version of a ‘View from Brussels’.

17 Dec 2019
Welcome to the inaugural version of a ‘View from Brussels’.
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