Internet market and consumer protection achievements and challenges
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The present dissertation seeks to provide an overview of the EU consumer protection policy, outlining the history and development of consumer law and policy in the EU over the years, while it focuses on a comprehensive and up-to-date presentation on a number of policy areas related to consumer protection, highlighting past improvements, achievements and success stories. It attempts to identify the shortcomings and future challenges, especially due to the technological and digital development, but also due to the increased complexity of financial products and services , the increasing influence of environmental, social, ethical and other quality aspects in purchasing decisions. The dissertation includes the presentation and evaluation of statistical data collected by the Cyprus Consumer Protection Service of the Ministry of Energy, the European Commission (statistical data of EU Networks, FIN-NET, RAPEX, ECC-Net and CPC), market and behavioral studies commissioned by the EC and information gathered from the Consumer Scoreboards, published by the EC in alternate years. The Consumer Conditions Scoreboard monitors national conditions for consumers in 3 dimensions (knowledge and trust, compliance and enforcement, complaints and dispute resolution) and examines progress in the integration of the EU retail market based on the level of business–to-consumer cross-border transactions and the development of e-commerce. The Consumer Markets Scoreboard, tracks the performance of 42 goods and services markets, taking into account the ease of comparing goods/services, consumers’ trust in retailers/suppliers to respect consumer protection rules, the degree to which problems experienced in the market cause detriment and consumer satisfaction. Even though a large number of achievements have been made throughout the years and despite the high level of consumer protection already achieved, the EU still needs to respond to the current challenges, adapt consumer law to the digital age, promote sustainable growth, support consumer interests in key sectors and restore confidence in the European economy by enhancing consumer empowerment and policy synergies.