HC Deb 26 May 2004 vol 421 c1683W
Mr. Greenway

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress was made at the Competitiveness Council held on 17 to 18 May on the Unfair Commercial Practice Directive and the Irish Presidency's proposal to delete the Internal Market Clause. [R] [175821]

Mr. Sutcliffe

The Competitiveness Council on 17 to 18 May reached political agreement to a common position on the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive based on a compromise package from the Irish Presidency, the main element of which was the deletion of Article 4(1) and the "country of origin" principle. The Commission stressed that this was only acceptable in the light of the full harmonisation which the Directive would provide, and tabled a minutes statement to this effect. The United Kingdom, Netherlands, Luxembourg and Estonia also tabled a joint minutes statement expressing their regret at the deletion of Article 4(1) and noting that traders who comply with the laws in the member state where they are established should ordinarily be presumed not to be in breach of the laws in other member states.

The Government welcome the Directive which will be a major enhancement of the UK's consumer protection regime by plugging gaps in the existing legal framework that unscrupulous traders exploit, and by setting standards against which new practices will automatically be judged. It will make an important contribution to achieving my Department's Public Service Agreement Target to have a consumer protection regime that is among the best in the world by 2006".

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