EU has not established any central agency that may be responsible for consumer protection during an e-commerce transaction. Rather, a framework has been created by the EU for its Member states’ institutions, which provides a supervisory network to its member states’ supervisory institutions.
At the same time, private consumer organizations have also been empowered to supervise the market as an agent for consumers. However, the EU also provides incentives for the industry for encouraging them to ensure the self-regulation of e-commerce transactions.
Despite that EU has established a number of agencies that are responsible for conducting market surveillance activities in the context of several market regimes including chemicals, food products, and pharmaceuticals; there is no general agency that is accountable for dealing with e-commerce transactions market surveillance.
Moreover, often these established sector-specific agencies carry out e-commerce market surveillance to ensure consumer protection, through their legal mandate that can assist in supervising the European market.
Consumer Protection in States
The agencies may primarily do so through the issuance of warnings such as for refraining consumers to purchase counterfeit medicines online. Although the EU has been making efforts for increasing market areas that are being governed by EU agencies, it does not have any plans for establishing an agency that will be specifically responsible for monitoring consumer protection in e-commerce.
Very few regulations have been established by the EU in the e-commerce field for protecting consumers; thus, the Member States are not required for conducting market surveillance based on such a regulatory framework.
There are many gaps that exist in the regulations and standards that have been developed under these frameworks, and thus, Member States have the margin to determine the way in which they want to carry out market surveillance activities; unlike other regulations that provide very little scope to Member State to take any discretionary measures.
In relation to Member States’ Institutions, Member state regulatory authorities have been established under the EU law, which regulates their investigation and enforcement powers