Consumer protection and empowerment took center stage in a recent event in Cyprus, shedding light on the challenges posed by digitalization and the green transition. Titled "New Consumer Agenda - Challenges ahead," the event featured prominent speakers and in-depth discussions, underscoring the vital role of safeguarding consumer rights and obligations in a rapidly changing world.
Minister of Energy, Yiorgos Papanastasiou, emphasized the growing importance of consumer interests, particularly in the context of today's world. He lauded the "New Consumer Agenda" as a successful and finely-tuned EU strategic framework for consumers in the 2020-2025 period. Cyprus is committed to fostering consumer confidence, a key driver for post-COVID-19 economic recovery, and navigating geopolitical shifts in the region.
The strategic framework aligns with EU policies on sustainability and digitalization, aligning with the EU's ambitions to transform into a modern, sustainable, and efficient single market in response to the climate crisis. Cyprus is executing reforms and investments totaling €1.2 billion until 2026 as part of the national Recovery and Resilience Plan.
Consumer safety, especially for children and minors, and protection from harmful online content were highlighted. Papanastasiou called for effective control and supervision of social media and influencers to ensure a secure digital environment.
Nikolaos Isaris explained that the New EU Consumer Agenda, launched in 2020, aims to empower consumers with information and legal safeguards amid digitalization and sustainability challenges. In a rapidly evolving landscape, consumers need to make informed choices during the ongoing green and digital transitions.
Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, acknowledged the exceptional challenges facing consumers, including those stemming from Russia's aggression against Ukraine. He highlighted the Consumer Agenda's critical role in protecting consumers and involving them in the green and digital transitions. Reynders stressed the Commission's efforts to strengthen the legal framework and advance Green Deal objectives, with a focus on people-centered policies.
Reynders also addressed emerging online threats, emphasizing the ongoing digital fairness fitness check assessing the adequacy of consumer protection in handling issues like dark patterns, addictive digital service designs, influencer marketing, and unfair contract terms.
The panel discussions emphasized the significance of consumer knowledge during the digital and green transition and the responsibilities of competent authorities in safeguarding consumers and enforcing legislation. Effective supervision was considered crucial for the implementation of existing and forthcoming legislation.
The speakers underscored the need for individuals to acquire specific skills in the digital age. The event also reviewed the Commission's initiatives aimed at empowering and protecting consumers, recognizing the need to stay ahead of evolving technology.
Concerns about online shopping safety and the protection of consumers from non-compliant products, such as those from China, were addressed, emphasizing adherence to EU standards. In a dynamic and ever-changing world, consumer protection and empowerment remain a top priority.