Many Germans unaware of EU benefits | News | DW | 05.02.2019
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Many Germans unaware of EU benefits

Half of German consumers aren't aware of the benefits of EU rules that protect them, a survey has shown. However, consumers believe Brussels provides both competitiveness and protection in the market.

A new survey released on Tuesday revealed that Germans have a favorable view of certain EU-wide policies, but are only partially aware of their successes.

The survey by the Federation of German Consumer Organizations was conducted during the first two weeks of 2019, ahead of the upcoming EU parliamentary elections in May.

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Three major EU consumer policies were evaluated in the survey:

  • The elimination of roaming charges in the EU.
  • Rights to cancel online purchases.
  • Rights to change electricity and phone providers.

When asked if they felt that the EU had communicated the advantages and successes of each policy effectively, only half of respondents agreed.

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Competition and protection

Some 64 percent of respondents said they associated the EU with competition and choice of products and services. Likewise, 63 percent also felt the EU had a key role in protecting them from unsafe products through high-quality testing and safety standards.

Protection of personal data through regulation, a priority for many consumers in today's digital age, was also associated by 62 percent of respondents with the EU.

Other EU policies that consumers felt Brussels was critical for were warranty and cancellation rights for purchases (57 percent) and the prohibition of unfair commercial and trade practices (55 percent).

But only 51 percent of respondents felt that the EU was associated with compensation for flight and passenger rights, an issue that has troubled consumers in recent years.

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What do they want from the EU?

On three policies the EU has yet to tackle, Germans showed a clear preference for strengthening rights and consumer benefits. Some 89 percent of respondents wanted manufacturers of large household appliances to be required to offer more lenient repair policies.

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The introduction of an EU class action policy for consumers was supported by 88 percent of Germans. Last year, the Bundestag voted to allow for consumers to jointly sue major companies, albeit with procedural restrictions that would protect the legal system from a US-style flood of lawsuits.

By a smaller, though still wide consensus, 77 percent of consumers wanted to see stronger legal controls for liability issues related to digital and networked devices.

The head of Germany's Consumer Federation, Klaus Müller, said the report's results prove that consumers see the EU as a champion for consumers.

"There is great potential here for more confidence in Europe," Müller said, indicating that if the bloc improves its relationship with consumers, pro-EU politicians can counter their more euroskeptic critics in a critical election year.

jcg/rc (AFP, dpa)

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