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Brexit: what consumer protections do you want to see?

Brexit and Westminster

Parliament may only sit for a few more days before it dissolves for the General Election, but yesterday I had the chance to speak to members of the Lords about the most critical issue on the next government’s plate – Brexit. And crucially, what that means for consumer protection.

The House of Lords EU Justice Sub-Committee has sensibly decided to hold an inquiry into Brexit and consumer protection. It’s first evidence session was with Which? and our colleagues at Citizens Advice.

Brexit process

The Committee was quick to assure us that even though the election is being held, the evidence session was important. And we’re hopeful that the Committee will quickly return to the inquiry once Parliament is back in June.

We also want them to hear from Ministers, regulators and businesses about how consumer issues will be a central part of the Brexit process.

I’m sure that the members of the House of Lords who grilled me yesterday included both Leave and Remain voters. But now that Article 50 has been triggered, all Peers in the room were concerned about how we ensure the Brexit process delivers for consumers.

They wanted our views on the Great Repeal Bill and how we can bring important consumer rights and protections from the EU into UK law. And they also wanted to know which EU regulations should be left behind once we leave.

As you may know, Which? is pleased that the government has committed to ‘lift and shift’ vital consumer protections onto the UK statute book. But agreed that there are opportunities to improve the UK’s consumer protections post-Brexit.

Consumer protections

A critical area that we explored was UK consumers’ rights when shopping or on holiday in Europe. This must be a central part of the UK’s negotiations on our new relationship with the EU.

It’s also important that the government prioritises how consumer protection laws will be enforced after Brexit.

We need to have a much more robust regime at home – particularly given the challenges that Trading Standards currently face – but we’ll also need a new approach to working with enforcement agencies around the world.

Scammers and dodgy products cross many borders and we’ll need to work with agencies in the EU and the rest of the world to tackle this.

Peers were very receptive to all of these points and they’ll need to haul new government ministers in front of them after the election to ensure that these issues are prioritised.

Next steps

We’re going to continue feeding in further evidence to the Committee, but we’re also directly working with government officials and others to make sure that the Brexit process delivers for consumers too.

So, how do you think Brexit will impact consumers? What consumer issues would you like tackled in the process – are there particular issues, like shopping rights, that you think should be prioritised?

Comments

This comment was removed at the request of the user

The ECHR is separate from the EU, however, and leaving the EU doesn’t mean we withdraw from the Human Rights treaty to which we are signatories. But I agree there is a worry there.

John Holmes says:
27 April 2017

For me the biggest concern is food pricing and availability. I suspect there will be a shift away from EU sourced food and world food sourced through EU contracts towards domestic supplies encouraging British farmers.
However the UK is far from self sufficient so I anticipate price rises and availabiliy reductions that will impact the poor especially.

I want the continued right to buy services from other EU countries with legal protection against discrimination on nationality or residence. I also want to be able to continue ordering goods online from other EU countries without having any customs charges or delays. The same rights should continue in the opposite direction in order to protect the huge exports by British online businesses. I want to continue to be able to shop in person in other EU countries and bring as much as I want home with me, including alcohol. I haven’t bought beer in a UK supermarket for 25 years, because the beer I want is 3 times the normal price in the UK and hard to find.

I want a continuation of Regulation (EU) No 531/2012 and Regulation (EU) 2015/2120, which will take full force on 15th June 2017. As a non-EEA member, the UK will not be able to unilaterally regulate retail roaming charges by UK mobile networks because the retail charges are dependent on the wholesale charges levied by EEA networks upon UK networks being similarly regulated. So it means an amendment to Regulation (EU) No 531/2012 and/or Regulation (EU) 2015/2120 to include a non-EEA UK within their territorial scope.

I want a non-EEA UK to opt into Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 for delayed flight compensation, just like non-EEA Switzerland did.

I want the UK to remain in the Single Euro Payments Area, just as several non-EU/EEA countries like Switzerland are.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

I agree with you. I was just saying what I want from a consumer perspective. Ultimately the UK-EU deal will be so undesirable, that it will be put to the electorate to approve, and they’ll decide to remain in the EU after all. Already a majority of voters believe that Brexit was the wrong decision: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/majority-british-voters-brexit-wrong-decision-yougov-poll-finds-a7704566.html