Consumer law between market integration and Human Rights protection
Title: Consumer law between market integration and Human Rights protection
Author: BENÖHR, Iris
Citation: Florence, European University Institute, 2009
Series/Report no.: EUI PhD theses; Department of Law
This thesis examines the relationship between fundamental rights and consumer protection in the European Union. Traditionally, consumer regulation has been applied as a onedimensional tool to achieve economic integration. In 2000, the Charter of Fundamental Rights broadened the scope of consumer law to include a social dimension; however, this initiative remains limited in practice, because of the abstract wording in the Charter, and because of the partly contrasting full-harmonisation strategy of the EU. Moreover, the Charter is not binding and it risks succumbing to traditional market-oriented policy tendencies. This thesis tries to build a bridge between the two approaches to consumer law - the market-oriented approach, and the fundamental-rights based approach. To do so, it suggests a new consumer concept, based upon the capability approach of the economist Amartya Sen. Such an approach enables the consumer to deal with the risks of increasingly integrated and complex markets, by focusing upon basic procedural rights. Three areas of consumer law have been gaining importance in recent times: credit agreements, telecommunications, and collective redress. Cases from these areas are considered here, as they exemplify the inter-action between fundamental rights, and participation in cross-border markets. First, cases in consumer credit illustrate the impact of fundamental rights on the provision of fair contractual conditions, and on access to responsible lending schemes. Second, the new telecommunication proposal highlights the importance of regulatory participation mechanisms for consumers, to ensure access to services of general interests and to ensure data protection in an increasingly privatised environment. Finally, collective redress mechanisms show how procedural innovations can improve judicial participation through the basic right of access to justice. The thesis concludes by proposing a new legal approach for consumer law in the EU, in order reach a compromise between social and economic demands.
LC Subject Heading: Consumer protection -- Law and legislation -- European Union countries; Human rights -- European Union countries
Defense date: 18/12/2009; Examining Board: Professor Christian Joerges, University of Bremen (supervisor) Professor Hans-W. Micklitz, European University Institute Professor Roland Bieber, University of Lausanne Professor Stephen Weatherill, University of Oxford
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