European Commission’s Review of Consumer Rights Directive


The European Commission has published the results of its evaluation of the Consumer Rights Directive (2011/83/EU) (“CRD“).

The evaluation found that the CRD had positively contributed to the functioning of the business-to-consumer internal market and had ensured a high common level of consumer protection across member states of the EU. Areas for improvement were also highlighted.

Evaluation findings

  • Effectiveness. Factors limiting the effectiveness of the CRD’s objective to enhance consumer protection included lack of compliance by traders, lack of awareness of the CRD’s provisions among both consumers and traders, issues relating to poor levels of national enforcement action, varying enforcement methods and penalties across member states, and difficulties in interpreting some provisions (e.g., the concept of outside the “business premises” in off-premises contracts).
  • Efficiency. The level of costs faced by businesses in ensuring compliance with the CRD could not be precisely determined. However, some specific issues were reported, mainly concerning the precontractual information requirements, particularly in connection with a consumer’s right to cancel the contract and return goods. Where returned goods have reduced in value as a result of the consumer overusing the goods, SMEs reported difficulties in assessing reduction in value and in reselling.
  • Relevance. Further consideration should be given to simplifying the presentation of precontractual information and standard terms and conditions. Information requirements might also permit more modern forms of communication (such as web-based forms). Specific transparency requirements for online marketplaces could be introduced to ensure that consumers are informed about the differences in the levels of consumer protection when contracting with a trader (rather than another consumer).
  • Coherence. The CRD’s interaction with other EU consumer and marketing legislation could be further streamlined and clarified. The proposed Directive for the Supply of Digital Content should also be taken into account in any possible amendment to the CRD’s provisions dealing with digital content.
  • Digital Content. The CRD sets out specific precontractual information requirements for digital content and rules on the withdrawal from contracts for digital content not supplied on a tangible medium. There is still, however, a lack of awareness of the CRD’s general and specific application to contracts for the supply of digital content, including the provisions that are intended to cover contracts for digital content where no payment is made by the consumer. The CRD may also be expanded to cover contracts for “free” digital services (as opposed to digital content), such as cloud storage or webmail.

Next steps

The European Commission proposes to take certain follow-up actions:

  • Further promoting consumers’ and traders’ awareness of their rights and obligations under the CRD.
  • Considering further guidance to clarify certain provisions.
  • Steering a self-regulatory exercise among targeted stakeholders with the aim of agreeing to a set of key principles for better presentation of precontractual information under the CRD and standard contract terms.
  • Improving enforcement of the CRD across all member states.
  • Examining possible targeted amendments to the CRD regarding:
    • extending its scope to cover contracts for “free” digital services;
    • clarifying that it covers contracts for “free” digital content;
    • simplifying existing information requirements to allow more modern means of communication;
    • reducing the burden on traders, specifically in the context of rights of withdrawal for goods already used by the consumer and the rules on reimbursement before the trader has received the goods back; and

increasing the transparency of information that online marketplaces must provide consumers, such as providing information about the quality and identify of the supplier (as trader or consumer), and about the differences in the level of consumer protection when contracting with a trader rather than a consumer.