Cyprus Mail

Experts convene to address consumer challenges in digital age

Õðïõñãüò ÅíÝñãåéáò, Åìðïñßïõ êáé Âéïìç÷áíßáò Ãéþñãïò Ðáðáíáóôáóßïõ
Energy, Commerce, and Industry minister George Papanastasiou

Experts gathered to address the challenges faced by consumers in the new digital age and during the green and digital transition at a conference on Wednesday.

The event commenced with introductory speeches by the deputy head of the EU Commission delegation in Cyprus Nikos Isaris, EU Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders, via video message, and Energy Minister George Papanastasiou.

This was followed by two round table discussions focused on the digital age and the green transition, featuring the participation of ministry officials, producers, associations, and others. The Permanent Secretary of the Directorate of Justice and Consumers, Isabelle Perignon, was present in both panels.

In his address, Papanastasiou emphasised the importance of defending and strengthening consumers’ interests, particularly in today’s climate of pervasive challenges. He lauded the commission’s new consumer agenda, a comprehensive strategic framework for consumers in the EU for the 2020-2025 period, for its success and precise targeting.

The minister underlined his commitment to boosting consumer confidence, which is expected to bolster economic recovery in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and amid geopolitical challenges in Europe and the Middle East.

“This new strategic framework takes a holistic approach to EU consumer-related policies, while complementing other union initiatives in the areas of sustainability and digitalisation,” he said.

Papanastasiou added that especially for the challenges created by climate change, the member states are committed to a new development strategy, which will transform the union into a modern, sustainable, and efficient single market in terms of the use of resources, both environmental and digital.

“Cyprus is moving forward with reforms and investments amounting to €1.2 billion until 2026, through the implementation of the national Recovery and Resilience Plan ‘Cyprus-Tomorrow’ and we are planning and implementing measures to strengthen and expand the productive base of the Cypriot economy,” he said.

He also stated that the safety of products and toys for children and minors and their protection from harmful content will continue to be strengthened and at the same time social media and influencers should be effectively controlled and supervised.

He also mentioned the need to properly inform consumers about their rights, their obligations, the various risks and how to protect themselves adequately.

Reynders in his video message emphasised that in Cyprus and across Europe, consumers face extraordinary challenges, and that the commission’s agenda sets out concrete actions to protect consumers and empower them to play an active role in the green and digital transition.

“This Commission has done a lot to strengthen our legal framework and move towards our Green Deal goals. Our guiding principle is that people should be at the centre of everything we do. The same applies to the digital transition. Our new rules on consumer credit and long-distance marketing of financial services will protect consumers in the highly digitised financial services sector,” he said.

The commissioner also referred to the submission of a review of the rules for alternative dispute resolution by consumers and the changes to the travel directive and congratulated the Cypriot authorities for the communication campaigns.

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