Friday, 21 December 2012

All the best for 2013, dear readers!

Dear readers,

Our blog and its publicity has grown in the past year and we are very happy because of that. We wish you now a Merry Christmas and even more interest in European consumer law next year! Follow us and with us join in the discussion of current consumer law issues.

Best wishes!
Joasia, Chantal, Candida, Bram

Driving home for Christmas?

We wrote here before about the plan of the European Commission to increase road safety for European citizens  by widening its scope (to motorcycles etc.) and toughening up the current testing regime (Better safe than sorry...). Unfortunately, yesterday the EU transport ministers agreed to weaken key elements of the Commission's proposal, effectively decreasing its relevance.

"The agreement by ministers today would substantially weaken the proposed new rules, by (a) removing motorcycles and other two-wheelers, the most vulnerable group of road users from the scope of mandatory regular testing; (b) removing proposals for increased frequency of technical checks for older vehicles – the highest risk vehicles on the road; (c) weakening proposed measures to reduce mileage manipulation. 

Ministers have backed measures with regard to two things: strengthened cross-border mutual recognition, and higher quality and harmonisation of testing, with minimum requirements on training, on equipment, on assessing deficiencies, on technical vehicle information and on supervision of testing."

The proposal will now be considered by the European Parliament.

Travelling for the sick

Travelling while sick is never pleasant, nor is it easy to take some medicines with you - taking into account, for example, airport restrictions. Yesterday, the European Commission adopted also pan-EU rules defining the minimum list of elements that need to be included in a medical prescription taken by a patient travelling from one Member State to another. These new EU provisions would enable cross-border identification of the patient, the prescriber and the prescribed product, diminishing delays, interruptions in treatment and extra costs. The plan is for the Member States to implement these rules by 25 October 2013. Currently, it is believed that over half of patients would have problems with their prescription being recognised in another Member State and only ca 2,3 million cross-border prescriptions are issued. I'm curious, however, how these new rules would work in practice since they do not prescribe the same appearance, format or language for the prescriptions. See more here.

Food for thought

The European Council pushed forward this week a new regulation that will regulate information duties (and compositional requirements) for four categories of food: infant formula and follow-on formula; processed cereal-based food and baby food for infants and young children; food for special medical purposes; total daily diet food for weight control. On the 20th of December the European Council approved an agreement reached with the European Parliament on foods considered essential for certain vulnerable persons (babies, young children). The new regulation intends to clarify existing rules both for consumers and producers. It will replace the Directive 2009/39/EC on foodstuffs intended for particular nutritional uses and change other instruments (see more here). In the legislative procedure, the European Parliament will now need to adopt it. For an example of rules it contains see below.
"Infant formula and follow-on formula are not allowed to be labelled, presented and advertised in a way that discourages breast-feeding. For the labelling of infant formula and follow-on formula pictures of infants idealising the use of these categories of food are forbidden. Idealising pictures are also proscribed for the presentation and advertising of infant formula.

Foods for sportsmen, milk-based drinks and similar products  marketed as "growing up milks" are excluded from the scope of the new rules. The Commission must, however, report on the necessity of rules for these products after having consulted the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Smokers beware

On the 19th of December the European Commission adopted also its proposal of the Tobacco Products Directive's amendment. The rules on tobacco products' manufacturing, presentation and trade will be strengthened. Among other, it would prohibit the use of cigarettes, roll-you-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco products with characterising flavours. Additionally, it makes it mandatory to use large pictorial health warnings on cigarettes and RYO and regulates cross-border online sales. It would also begin to regulate products like e-cigarettes and herbal products for smoking. The ban on snus (oral tobacco) will be maintained. Chewing and nasal tobacco would be covered by specific labelling and ingredient regulations. More on the revision project may be found here.

Flying without snakes on board

Do you like watching movies like Snakes on a Plane or Air Force One? Well, the EU wants to limit airplanes' accidents to fictional only. On the 19th of December the European Commission proposed new rules to prevent aircraft accidents. The proposal aims to increase and improve the use of data on occurrences as well as improve the flow of information between the Member States, switching the focus from reaction to prevention. "An occurrence is any type of event significant in the context of aviation safety which might or might not have resulted in an actual accident but which merits being collected and analysed." The text of the proposal will now be discussed by the Parliament and the Council.

Investigation into Google continued

This was a busy week for everyone - trying to finish all work issues before Christmas and then starting to prepare for the holiday season, too. The European institutions were busy, too, so let us try to catch up (further) on some of the news regarding European consumer law. 

 On the 18th of December, VP of the European Commission, Joaquin Almunia, announced that he intends to continue to try and reach an agreement with Google, regarding the antitrust behaviour of the latter. As you may recall, BEUC called for effective remedies to be agreed on between the parties (Manipulating online search results). The concerns of the European Commission relate to: 

" - the way in which Google's vertical search services are displayed within general search results as compared to services of competitors; 
 - the way Google may use and display third party content on its vertical search services; 
 - exclusivity agreements for the delivery of Google search advertisements on other websites; and 
 - restrictions in the portability of AdWords advertising campaigns." 

 A detailed commitment text is to be expected from Google in January 2013.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Digital Consumers and the Law

A nice thing about the week before the holidays is that usually a lot of packages arrive. The one I just opened contained a new book on 'Digital Consumers and the Law', resulting from a joint project of the Amsterdam Institute for Information Law (IViR) and the Centre for the Study of European Contract Law (CSECL).

The book deals with the following topics: 

Chapter 1 Digital Content Markets for Consumers: Characteristics, Challenges, and Legal Context.
Chapter 2 Classifying Digital Content: Good, Service or Else?. 
Chapter 3 Somewhere between ‘B’ and ‘C’: The Legal Status of the ‘Prosumer’ in European Consumer Laws. 
Chapter 4 Pre-contractual Information Requirements for Digital Content.  
Chapter 5 Conformity and Non-conformity of Digital Content. 
Chapter 6 Educating the Regulator: A More Mature Approach Towards the Underage Consumer.
Chapter 7 Fundamental Rights and Digital Content Contracts.  
Chapter 8 Money Does Not Grow on Trees, It Grows on People: Towards a Model of Privacy as Virtue.  
Chapter 9 Conclusions.

Please refer to the publisher's website for more information.

Lawyers buying into CESL's process

Finally, here is a link to Commissioner Reding's most recent speech on the proposal for a Common European Sales Law, given at the occasion of a debate organised by the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) for the purpose of 'buying into the process'. On the point of interpretation of the CESL, which is as important for consumers as it is for professional users of the instrument, Reding observed:

'I also envisage a database that enables courts to draw on existing case-law from all Member States. This database - accessible to everybody, but in particular to all legal practitioners, would ensure transparency and a de-facto convergence of relevant case-law. The database would contain national rulings applying Common European Sales Law provisions as well as translated summaries. This would ensure the consistency of application. In time, this database would also remove the necessity for judges to investigate foreign law and compare several laws. This in turn will help to lower litigation costs and shorten the length of proceedings. 

With this in mind, it is reasonable to expect that the vast majority of issues would be resolved by Member States' courts without problematic inconsistencies. And that only a small number of questions would have to be taken to the Court of Justice in Luxembourg. We should also bear in mind that the Common European Sales Law builds on the biggest common denominator of contract law traditions in Member States. Even though the details are new, it would be a rare occurrence that the concepts and approaches underlying the instrument are alien to the courts that will have to apply them. This will limit the risk of fundamentally differing interpretations.

To support us on this journey we also have excellent work by way of commentaries like that edited by Professor Schulze. I thank you for your tremendous efforts in producing this commentary - which can be seen as a very helpful tool in showing others how the Common European Sales Law will work. 

This is only one tool but nevertheless an important pre-cursor of what is taking place: There will be many others including – as mentioned in your position paper – comments which explain the Common European Sales Law article by article as well as suggestions for a digest to be created linking different court cases to each other.'

To be continued...

How much time did you spend on the internet today?

Fourthly, some interesting facts and figures on internet use were published by the EU's statistical office Eurostat. Although the level of internet access has increased Europe-wide, significant differences in use remain among Member States. While e-mailing and searching for information on goods and services are still at the top of the list of online activities, it seems that a majority of internet users is also more often reading the news online, posting to social media, internet banking and consulting travel services. 

Creating websites and blogging are less common initiatives. Since we are in the blogosphere now, I cannot help but notice the following: 'The Netherlands (17%) and Hungary (16%) recorded a proportion of internet users who created websites and blogs in 2012 that was almost double the EU27 average.'

The full overview of data is available here.

The way forward for ADR and ODR

Thirdly, an update on the progress of the proposals on Alternative Dispute Resolution and Online Dispute Resolution (ADR and ODR): After the vote in the Internal Market and Consumers Committee the proposals now await final adoption by the European Parliament, which is foreseen to take place in the second quarter of 2013. The new rules will then have to be implemented by the Member States and are expected to introduce benefits for consumers seeking to resolve disputes in an efficient and effective manner:

'The rules on ADR will ensure that contractual disputes between consumers and traders are settled out of court through quality alternative dispute resolution entities. These will operate in all Member States and in all sectors, with the exception of health and higher education. 

The ODR Regulation will set up an EU-wide online platform for handling disputes between consumers and traders, arising from online transactions. The platform will link all the national alternative dispute resolution entities and will operate in all official EU languages. Traders will be required to provide consumers with adequate information on ADR and ODR.'

The text of the proposals and accompanying documents may be found here.

Copyright in the digital market

Secondly, the Commission adopted a communication on copyright today, which presents points of action to keep the EU's copyright framework fit for purpose in the digital environment. The Commission's plans comprise the following:

'A structured stakeholder dialogue, jointly led by Commissioners Michel Barnier (Internal Market and Services), Neelie Kroes (Digital Agenda) and Androulla Vassiliou (Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth), will be launched in 2013 to seek to deliver rapid progress in four areas through practical industry-led solutions.

These areas are cross-border access and the portability of services; user-generated content and licensing for small-scale users of protected material; facilitating the deposit and online accessibility of films in the EU; and promoting efficient text and data mining for scientific research purposes.

In parallel, the on-going review of the EU framework for copyright legal will be completed, based on market studies, impact assessment and legal drafting work, with a view to a decision in 2014 on whether to table legislative reform proposals.'

Please refer to the press release and website for more information.

On the water

Just before the holidays, there is much consumer-relevant news from the European Commission to report on. To start with, as of today passenger rights that already existed for air and railways travel are extended to Europeans travelling by water.

As summarised by the Commission 'the new rights include:
  1. adequate and accessible information for all passengers before and during their journey, as well as general information about their rights in terminals and on board ships;
  2. adequate assistance such as snacks, meals, refreshments and, where necessary, accommodation up to three nights, with a financial coverage up to €80 per night in case of cancellation or delay at departure of more than 90 minutes;
  3. guaranteed choice between reimbursement or rerouting in case of cancellation or delay at departure of more than 90 minutes;
  4. compensation, between 25% and 50% of the ticket price, in situations of delay at arrival;
  5. non-discriminatory treatment and specific, free-of-charge, assistance for disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility, both at port terminals and on board ships, as well as financial compensation for loss of or damage to their mobility equipment;
  6. mechanisms to handle passenger complaints to be put in place by carriers and terminal operators;
  7. appointment of independent national bodies in charge of enforcing the regulation, where appropriate, through the application of penalties.
In addition, as from 31 December 2012, passengers involved in an accident when travelling by sea will have the following rights under EU law:
  1. financial compensation in case of death, personal injury, and loss of or damage to luggage, vehicles, and mobility or other special equipment;
  2. advance payment (within 15 days) to cover immediate economic needs in case of death or personal injury;
  3. direct recourse against the carrier's insurance provider in case of death or personal injury;
  4. right to receive appropriate and comprehensible information regarding the above rights prior to or –at the latest – upon departure.'
More information is available in the press release and on the Commission's passenger rights website.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

What are the options? - BEUC's position paper on digital products

European consumer organisation BEUC has made no secret of its critical stance toward the European Commission's proposal for an optional instrument that would offer a set of contract terms that parties may, inter alia, choose to apply to their contracts for the supply of digital content (such as films, e-books or music). In particular, BEUC is sceptical of the proposed Common European Sales Law's optional nature, since 'a business selling digital content online will be able to decide between modern European rules or national legislation, which is - as acknowledged by the European Commission - often unclear about the rights to which consumers are entitled in contracts for the supply of digital content. What consumers need is solid legislation applicable to all contracts and not dependent on an opt-in or opt-out basis.'

Yet, what are the alternatives? In a recently published position paper, BEUC outlines the following suggestions for updating the acquis communautaire governing digital content contracts for consumers:

'- A legislative proposal modernising the EU rules on legal guarantees in order to cover digital content products. This could be done via a new Directive on digital content products or in the frame of an eventual revision of the 1999 Sales of Goods Directive. The rules included in chapters 10 and 11 of the CESL could serve as a basis with the appropriate adaptations as indicated in point 5 of this paper.

- Standardisation of key information provided to consumers and the format in which it shall be presented to make this information comprehensible, transparent and easy to access and to read. This initiative should equally take into account the Commission’s own research on consumers’ behaviour towards information load and the way consumption decisions and made.

- Initiatives to address the issues related to lack of the transparency and unfairness of certain contract terms in digital content contracts. They could include guidance on transparency requirements and unfair contract terms, which would help clarify the application of the UCT legislation to digital content contracts and include examples of terms which may be considered unfair under the 1993 Unfair Contract Terms Directive.

- Support better enforcement of EU rules against unfair commercial practices in the field of digital content products through promoting co-ordinated enforcement actions by national consumer organisations and facilitating the co-operation for national enforcement authorities.

- Clarify under which conditions a contract for the supply of digital content can be concluded by a minor.'

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Back to the pre-antibiotic era?

The European Parliament adopted a resolution today in which it warns against neglecting antimicrobial resistance. Currently, bacteria that are resistant to antimicrobial drugs cause 25,000 deaths a year in the EU, Iceland and Norway. This significant amount suggests that more money should be spent on developing new, better drugs, as well as careful usage of existing drugs and improvements of animal husbandry should be reinforced. (Parliament calls for immediate action to tackle antimicrobial resistance)

I find this news interesting, coming from Poland where you are prescribed antibiotics for anything - it's enough you sneezed a few times, but living in the Netherlands - where you won't get an appointment with a doctor if you haven't been sick at least a week, and where antibiotics are being prescribed only if clear evidence of bacteria has been found (yes, tests would be conducted first). The European Parliament now argues for adoption of prudent-use guidelines to reduce non-essential exposure to antibiotics in human and veterinary medicine, agriculture etc. Basically, the approach of doctors (Polish ones, for sure), pharmacists etc. has to change which could be achieved by providing them with more and better education and training. More comprehensive information should also be given to consumers to make them aware of the harm done by using antimicrobial drugs improperly and they should not be accessible without a prescription.

"The number of resistant bacteria in Europe is exploding. Bacteria travel across borders and are a threat for the whole EU. First of all, we must ensure that the use of antimicrobials for both humans and animals is reduced. But we also need to bridge the gap between rising resistance and development of new antimicrobials by promoting more research and innovation. If we don't take measures now, the growing resistance could threaten our ability to treat patients and could even take us back to the pre-antibiotic era." said Ms Anna Rosbach.

Healthcare of the 21st century: digital

Last Friday the European Commission revealed an eHealth Action Plan which is supposed to optimise the use of digital solutions in Europe's healthcare systems. As a result of the changes it intends to introduce, the patients should gain more control of their care and the costs of healthcare could decrease. So far, most European patients uses only their mobile phones (out of all modern technologies that could be applied to access and assess healthcare systems), e.g., to download smartphone apps to assess their health. The Action Plans wants to clarify areas of legal uncertainty, improve interoperability, increase awareness of digital solutions among patients, support research into personalised medicine, ensure free legal advice for start-up eHealth businesses. We are also promised a mHealth (mobile health) Green Paper by 2014 which would explain and address quality and transparency issues. Additionally, a Staff Working Document was issued which summarises which EU legislation applies currently to cross-border telemedicine. (e.g., as far as liability of healthcare practitioners, licensing systems, and data processing is concerned) (Putting patients in the driving seat: A digital future for healthcare)

Towards faster redress for disappointed shoppers?

Today, negotiators from the European Parliament and the Council found a deal on two prospective pieces of legislation: a Alternative Dispute Resolution directive and and a regulation on  Online Dispute Resolution .
The underlying goal is to provide "impartial mediation to settle disputes between shoppers and traders quickly, effectively and at low cost."
Admittedly, similar mechanisms are already available in many member states, but their effectiveness is hampered by lack of awareness and perfectible infrastructure. 
The harmonised ADR mechanisms should be
  • available for all economic sectors;
  • provided free of charge or only "at a nominal cost";
  • capable of generally resolving issues within 90 days.
In order to raise awareness, traders will have to inform consumers of which ADR bodies they are covered by and how to contact them. Measures must be taken in order to ensure that the arbitrators act impartially. 

A specific regulation will be issued concerning problems arising out of online sales. In this case, an online platform will be accessible through the"Your Europe" Portal to guide shoppers to the most appropriate resolution scheme for their dispute. All steps of the complaints will be dealt with online through a standard complaint form and electronic translation.
The application of EU privacy and data protection rules should make sure that the information concerned is processed correctly. 

What now? The acts will have to be officially endorsed by both organs in the coming months, starting with the Parliament where the texts should be put to plenary  vote early in 2013.

Friday, 7 December 2012

8th consumer scoreboard

What markets are working better for EU citizens? And where is there, to put it nicely, larger room for improvement?
Some answers can be found in the latest Consumers Market Scoreboard, which measures consumers overall appreciation of the markets along seven parameters (‘comparability’, ‘trust’, ‘satisfaction’, ‘choice’ and ‘ease of switching’, plus ‘problems’ and ‘complaints’).
In general, it seems that European consumers find themselves relatively at ease within markets for goods- with the notable but unsurprising exception of second-hand cars...
On the other hand, services markets in general seem to cause more troubles. In particular, at the bottom of the chart lay banking sand telecom services, which perform poorly on several parameters.
European consumers seem also to be at strains with energy markets when it comes to important aspects such as choice, comparability and switching suppliers and tariffs.
Finally, the most remarkable decreases in performance seem to have been taken place in the transport and post-delivery markets as an effect of the crisis. The latter has led governments to curb public subsidies to those sectors. 
Another interesting remark is to be found in the Commission's press release: apparently, "[m]arkets are assessed differently by different socio-demographic groups." Further research with the aim of clarifying the reasons for that is promised (and vividly looked forward to by this author).

Adoption of new Brussels I

Yesterday the Council of the EU adopted the "Brussels I" reform (see our previous post EP endorses Brussels I reform), which means that upon the publication in the Official Journal this new Regulation will enter into force (and become applicable two years thereafter, repealing the existing Brussels I Regulation). The reform is to simplify for business and consumers rules to determine which national court has jurisdiction in cross-border cases and how judgments of courts of one Member State are recognised in another Member State. One of the changes is the abolishment of the expensive 'exequatur' procedure which required companies to obtain a judgment in civil and commercial matters in courts of one Member State before it could be recognised in another EU country (new rules would enable automatic enforceability of judgments across the EU). Another change that was a bit more controversial, but seems to have been pushed forward (see the text adopted by the EP in November can be found here), was to allow consumers to go to a court in the EU Member State in which the consumer was domiciled also against business located outside the EU (see art. 6(1) in connection with art. 18(1)).

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Digital Content Sweep

The European Commission just published the results of a 'sweep investigation' conducted on digital content. This EU-wide screening of websites led the Commission to conclude that about 75% of websites offering digital content (such as music, videos, e-books and games) are not fully complying with European consumer law. In particular, problems are found regarding unfair contract terms, the consumer's right to withdrawal and information on the trader's identity and address.

Please check the press release and Digital Content Sweep website for more information. On the legal framework for digital content contracts for consumers, see also our earlier post 'Reporting on digital content contracts'.

Environmentally friendly consumption

The EU released a great video that aims to motivate consumers to stop food waste. 90 million tons of food is thrown away in the EU every year. At the end of the video there is a disclaimer, btw, that all the food used during the shooting of the clip has been cooked and eaten by the crew. 

Another video that has raised some stir this year that also calls for environmentally friendly consumption was an advert for SodaStream. The ad tries to convince consumers to switch to drinking their soda products by using SodaStream instead of buying bottles of soda - thus 'saving 2000 bottles a year'. Interestingly, the add was banned by the UK broadcast company which only allowed it to become more famous online. (SodaStream's Banned Ad Helps Home Carbonation Company Hit It Big)

No competition - Record fine for TV cartels

Yesterday, the European Commission imposed a record fine of €1.47 billion on a number of international companies that had participated in one or both of two cartels concerning TV and computer monitor tubes. According to the Commission's findings, the companies fixed prices, shared markets, allocated customers between themselves and restricted their output for over a decade (1996-2006).

Several of the companies involved plan to appeal the 'disproportionate and unjustified' fine (see also FT article 'Record €1.47bn fine for TV cartels').

On the basis of EU law, any person or firm affected by anti-competitive behaviour as described in this case may bring the matter before the courts of the Member States and seek damages (cf. CJEU Courage and Manfredi).

More information is available in the European Commission's press release and on its website.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Do you copy that? - BEUC's new copyright strategy

In particular in the digital environment, consumers are more and more often facing questions concerning copyright. As the European consumer organisation BEUC puts it in a letter to European Commission President Barroso:

'From the consumers’ point of view, the current copyright framework is far from balanced. In many Member States, copyright law makes the everyday activities of consumers, such as backing up and copying legally bought music, films and e-books in order to play on a different device, illegal. Under current laws, parodies and pastiches which have gained new cultural relevance in the digital ‘mash up’ culture are illegal.'

According to BEUC, the current legal framework regarding consumers' use of copyright protected material is outdated, since it does not sufficiently take into account consumer expectations and the public interest. For that reason, BEUC has now published a Copyright Strategy, which lists specific action points for specific problems on the intersection of consumer law and copyright law. 

As regards consumer rights, BEUC's main suggestions are to:
• Recognise consumers as a key stakeholder in debates and discussions surrounding copyright law on equal footing as creators and copyright users;
• Assess the effectiveness of the current copyright law from the consumers’ perspective;
• Strike a balance by recognising a set of clear, comprehensive and absolute consumers’ rights;
• Revise the Copyright Directive 2001/29 with the aim of establishing a flexible, future-proof and consumer-friendly copyright law;
• Replace the current system of copyright exceptions and limitations with a system of user’s rights.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Flying safe

In order to guarantee high air travel safety standards, the European Commission  – in consultation with Member States’ aviation safety authorities – has decided to ban airlines found to be unsafe from operating in European airspace and to impose certain restrictions on other airlines. The list is periodically updated in order to ensure that it reflects up-to-date situations.
The updated European air safety list includes all carriers certified in 20 States, accounting for 287 known air carriers, whose operations are fully banned in the European Union: Afghanistan, Angola, Benin, Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon (with the exception of three carriers which operate under restrictions and conditions), Indonesia (with the exception of six carriers), Kazakhstan (with the exception of one carrier which operates under restrictions and conditions), Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Mozambique, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Sao Tome and Principe, Sudan, Swaziland and Zambia.
The list also includes three individual carriers: Blue Wing Airlines from Surinam, Meridian Airways from Ghana and Conviasa from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
Additionally, the list includes 10 air carriers which are subject to operational restrictions and are thus allowed to operate into the EU under strict conditions: Air Astana from Kazakhstan as well as Afrijet, Gabon Airlines and SN2AG from Gabon as mentioned before, Air Koryo from the Democratic People Republic of Korea, Airlift International from Ghana, Air Service Comores, Iran Air, TAAG Angolan Airlines and Air Madagascar.

Publishing clinical-trial data

On the 22nd of November a workshop on access to clinical-trial data and transparency was held by the European Medicines Agency. The EMA decided this year to encourage publication of clinical-trial data in order to allow for more re-analysis thereof by stakeholders. However, since this could lead to some practical issues (e.g., regarding patients' data confidentiality) consultations with stakeholders are needed before a specific policy will be established. During the workshop advisory groups were established (participation in them is still open) that would analyse and present their findings by the end of April 2013 on the following issues: protection of patient confidentiality, clinical-trial-data formats, rules of engagement, good analysis practice, legal  aspects. The pro-active publication of clinical-trial data is expected to come into force on 1 January 2014.

Let it snow!

Since snow is gradually making an appearance across Europe, let us take a look at the ECC-Net report on ski resorts in Europe. The European Consumer Centres Network recognises that skiing (followed by snowboarding, cross-country skiing) is one of the most popular leisure-activities in many European countries. Therefore, it conducted a survey of 26 countries on winter sport resorts to support consumers in their choice of suitable winter vacation. The report is to make it easier for consumers to compare offers of winter holidays in various European countries, showing differences in prices and highlighting custom-made options (like family reductions) in a structured, transparent way.