In January 2019 a new proposal was approved by the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee updating the EU consumer protection rules in order to tackle misleading rankings in online marketplaces and dual quality of products in the EU.
According to the proposal, online marketplaces and comparison service providers (e.g. Amazon, eBay, AirBnb, Skyscanner) will have to disclose the main parameters determining how offers resulting from a search query are ranked and whether the authenticity of product reviews is checked. Consumers should also be able to know who is actually selling the product or service and be provided with clear information prior to a purchase.
This legislation also tackles the so-called "dual quality of products" issue, i.e. when products marketed under the same brand differ in composition or characteristics. MEPs agreed that goods could only differ "on account of clear and demonstrable regional consumer preferences, the sourcing of local ingredients or requirements of national law, while this distinction is clear and comprehensively marked so as to be immediately visible to the consumer".
The proposal prescribe sanctions for cross-border infringements (for example those harming consumers in at least three EU countries). The maximum amount of fines must be set at €10 million or at least 4% of the trader's annual turnover in the previous financial year.
The proposal will need to be green-lighted by the full house of the European Parliament in an upcoming plenary session before negotiations with the Council can start.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.