15 years of engagement on behalf of European Consumers

The European Consumer Centres network (ECC-Net) was established in 2005 following the merger of the European Extra-Judicial Network (EEJ-Net, the EU network for the extra-judicial settlement of consumer disputes) and the European Consumer Infocentres network (Euroguichet, the European consumer information centres). ECCs are managed by government bodies or NPOs in the relevant countries and are co-financed by the European Union. They are an excellent example of collaboration at both national and EU level.

ECC-Net comprises 30 consumer centres: one in every EU member state, one in Norway, one in Iceland and one in the United Kingdom.

The mission of the ECC-Net was quite specific from the outset: to increase confidence in cross-border shopping and consequently help consumers enjoy the benefits of the single market. To this end, ECC-Net needs to clarify the complexity of EU consumer rights pertaining to cross-border transactions and anticipate emerging trends.

Successful cooperation with traders, business federations, national and European authorities, consumer organisations and many other stakeholders is paramount in order to deliver on this mission, something we have consequently been specifically focusing on over the past few years.

The reality has changed dramatically for European consumers since 2005 as a result of, for example, the emergence of e-commerce and digitalisation. The same applies to European consumers’ expectations: they want to gain maximum benefit from what the single market can offer them, but also need a point of contact when things go wrong with cross-border purchases. The annual number of information and assistance requests handled by ECC-Net has increased from 43,000 in 2005 to 120,443 by the end of 2019. This is mainly due to electronic commerce, which currently amounts to more than 66% of all complaints, and this share is expected to grow even more going forward.

2020 is a celebration year for ECC-Net – it is ready to blow out 15 candles.

15 years of the ECC-Net, 15 years of consumer protection