The European Commission published its 2016 Consumer Markets Scoreboard which monitors EU consumers’ ratings of how 42 goods and services markets work
These ratings show that market’s performance has improved since the last scoreboard in 2014. The positive trend observed since 2010 is speeding up, with financial services showing the biggest progress. Consumers’ top three goods markets are books, magazines and newspapers, the market for entertainment goods (e.g. toys and games) and large household appliances such as fridges. As for services, consumers’ three top-ranking markets are leisure-related, ranging from holiday accommodation to cultural and entertainment services and sport services such as gyms.
“We can see from this year’s Scoreboard that consumer-friendly rules, market reforms, as well as effective enforcement of consumer rules, have made consumers more confident in the markets“, said Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality. “We must keep this encouraging trend going, especially for markets that still underperform, like telecoms and energy. That’s why consumers are at the heart of the Commission’s priority projects, like the Digital Single Market and the Energy Union.”
The Consumer Scoreboards are used by national policymakers and stakeholders to assess the impact of policy over time and compare the situation between Member States. The Commission uses the findings of the Consumer Markets Scoreboard as evidence to develop its policy.
Markets perform better when consumers feel more confident. For instance, low consumer trust in financial services was at the origin of the Consumer Credit Directive. Now that this piece of legislation is in place, we observe a growing trust in this sector. Consumers report difficulties when dealing with the telecommunications markets. The Commission will come up with a proposal in this area to address these issues. The Commission’s recent Digital contracts proposals aims at improving consumer’s trust in cross-border purchases online.
The Consumer Scoreboard confirms the results of the European Semester: sectors such as train services, water and electricity supply, require structural reforms in some countries, as their assessment varies greatly between Member States.
Key findings of the 2016 Consumer Markets Scoreboard:
- Improvements are bigger for the services markets than for goods markets. Financial services show the biggest progress. Consumers have more trust in their banks, private pensions and investment funds than before. This suggests that recent legislative initiatives in areas such as payment accounts and mortgage credit, effective enforcement and awareness-raising efforts are starting to bear fruit. At the same time, however, banking services remain the least performing sector among services markets.
- Performance is uneven across Member States. The largest differences in rating market performance between EU countries are found in the markets for electricity services, water supply, railway transport, mortgages and mobile telephone services. Compared to better-ranking markets, these markets are less open to cross-border competition.
- Performance is also uneven across markets. Among the markets surveyed real estate services, mortgages, investment products, private pensions and securities, as well as second-hand cars and meat products are the lowest ranking.
- Goods markets continue to be more favourably assessed than services markets, despite strong improvements for the latter. Amongst the goods markets the ‘fast moving retail’ markets – such as non-alcoholic drinks and bread, cereals and pasta – which performed well in previous editions of the Scoreboard, have lost ground compared to other goods markets.
- Consumers’ ranking of the train services market has improved significantly from 2013. The electricity market is not delivering fully to consumers. There are also many problems in the telecommunications markets. In these sectors, the overall detriment suffered by consumers is the highest among all sectors analysed.
- More consumers switched supplier, but switching remains difficult in some markets.For the first time the Scoreboard also looks into the reasons that prevented consumers from switching supplier. The findings show that in many instances consumers are still concerned that switching may be difficult, or they tried to switch but faced obstacles.
The Consumer Scoreboards provide an overview of how the Single Market works for EU consumers. Published since 2008, they aim to ensure better monitoring of consumer outcomes and provide evidence to inform policy. There are two types of Scoreboards, published in alternate years and based on large scale surveys:
– The Consumer Markets Scoreboard tracks the performance of over 40 consumer markets on basis of key indicators such as trusting that sellers comply with consumer protection rules, comparability of offers, the choice available in the market, the extent to which consumer expectations are met, and detriment caused by problems that consumers encounter. Other indicators, such as switching and prices, are also monitored and analysed,-
– The Consumer Conditions Scoreboard monitors national conditions for consumers in 3 areas (1. knowledge and trust, 2. compliance and enforcement, 3. complaints and dispute resolution) and examines progress in the integration of the EU retail market – (Consumer Conditions Scoreboard 2015)
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Source: The European Commission