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The Draft Directive on Consumer Rights: Choices Made and Arguments Used

Willem H. Van Boom

Leiden Law School

May 29, 2009

Journal of Contemporary European Research, Vol. 5, No. 3, pp. 452-464, 2009

The 2008 Proposal for a Directive on Consumer Rights aims at reorganizing the "acquis" of four specific European Directives on consumer protection into a more coherent codification of consumer rights. Specifically, it contains rules on precontractual information duties, on withdrawal rights for distance and off-premises contracts, on consumer sales and on general contract terms in consumer contracts.

In replacing four Directives with a minimum harmonization character, the Draft marks a further step towards full harmonization of consumer contract law in Europe. This is an unsettling step because the level of protection offered to consumers in the Draft hardly exceeds the level of protection offered by the four Directives mentioned earlier. Instead, it even diminishes this protection in some regards. In light of all this, the question arises whether the policy choices underlying the Draft are in fact convincingly underpinned by solid argumentation. This paper addresses this issue by first analyzing the Draft's use of the generic concept of "contracts between consumers and traders". I will argue that full harmonization of a badly delineated territory is ill-advised. Subsequently I will test the argumentative power of the policy considerations forwarded by the European Commission in its Regulatory Assessment Study.

I conclude that the Commission's assessment of expected costs and benefits of the Draft is waver-thin and geared towards persuading the reader of the aptness of choices already made. In some respects, the evidence presented by the Commission is outright unconvincing. At certain points, the Draft even fuels the reader's suspicion of foregone conclusions. Overall, the need for reduction of the level of protection offered by the current minimum harmonization Directives is poorly argued by the Commission and appears in a number of important ways not to reflect the socio-economic relationships that exist in at least some of the Member States.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 13

Keywords: European consumer law, full harmonization, domestic preferences, Regulatory Impact Assessment

JEL Classification: D18, K12

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Date posted: May 30, 2009 ; Last revised: November 17, 2009

Suggested Citation

Van Boom, Willem H., The Draft Directive on Consumer Rights: Choices Made and Arguments Used (May 29, 2009). Journal of Contemporary European Research, Vol. 5, No. 3, pp. 452-464, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1411664

Contact Information

Willem H. Van Boom (Contact Author)
Leiden Law School ( email )
P.O. Box 9520
2300 RA Leiden, NL-2300RA
HOME PAGE: http://www.professorvanboom.eu
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