13 Consumer Markets Scoreboard |
|Commission staff working document: Making markets work for consumers. Fourth edition of the Consumer Markets Scoreboard
|Document originated||22 October 2010
|Deposited in Parliament||28 October 2010
|Department||Business, Innovation and Skills
|Basis of consideration||EM of 9 November 2010
|Previous Committee Report||None
|To be discussed in Council||10 December 2010
|Committee's assessment||Politically important
13.1 In 2008, the Commission issued a Communication announcing
its intention to publish "consumer scoreboards" based
on indicators which would help identify which parts of the internal
market are not functioning well for consumers.
Consumer Market Scoreboards were published in 2008 and 2009 and,
from this year, the Scoreboards will be published twice a year,
in spring and in autumn.
The autumn 2010 Scoreboard
13.2 The Commission says that the Scoreboard is "a key diagnostic
tool" to help implement the objectives of the EU's 2020 Strategy
for Jobs and Growth which depend on "well-functioning and
well-connected markets where competition and consumer access stimulate
growth and innovation."
13.3 The Scoreboard is based on the results of a
market monitoring survey conducted between March and May 2010
in all EU Member States and Norway and which covered 50 consumer
markets (goods and services) accounting for 60% of household budgets.
Housing, most medical products and services, and education are
excluded from the survey. The market monitoring survey tested
opinion on the following:
easily can consumers compare products and services and make informed
choices on price and quality?
- Trustdo consumers
trust businesses to comply with consumer legislation?
markets deliver what consumers want?
consumers encounter problems in particular markets? and
easy is it for consumers to switch products or providers?
Each consumer market was given a ranking based on
the combined score for each of these indicators.
13.4 The Scoreboard also includes information on
consumer complaints and prices, with data on the latter adjusted
to take account of different levels of purchasing power in different
13.5 The market monitoring survey indicates that
the lowest ranked consumer markets for services were in the financial
sector (investments, pensions and securities), real estate services,
internet service provision, and railways; and for goods, second
hand cars, clothing and footwear, meat and house maintenance and
13.6 Most consumers (52%) thought that it was relatively
easy to compare goods and services, but difficulties were encountered
with regard to banking services, telecoms, utilities (gas, water
and electricity), real estate and legal services and accountancy.
Levels of trust varied considerably across consumer markets, and
were particularly low (30% or less) for real estate services,
second-hand cars and financial services. 11% of consumers said
that they had experienced one or more problems, with most concerning
financial and real estate services, railways and internet services.
Consumers were generally reluctant to switch products or providers
or to complain if dissatisfied with their purchase, with the frequency
of complaints tending to reflect the value or importance of the
goods or services concerned, and 57% of consumers surveyed considered
that the market delivered what they wanted.
13.7 The data on prices suggested that there were
wider divergences in the pricing of services than of goods. Differences
were greatest for internet service provision and banking (current
accounts). There appeared to be a strong convergence of prices
in areas where competition is intense and there are opportunities
for cross-border trade, for example, pre-tax car prices and prices
for electronic goods.
13.8 The Commission concludes that the data contained
in the Scoreboard provide the basis for a deeper analysis of consumer
markets which appear to be performing less well. The Commission
therefore proposes to undertake two follow-up market studies.
The first, on internet service provision, is justified because
of the high number of reported problems in this sector, poor levels
of consumer satisfaction, and significant differences in price.
The second survey, on the meat market, is justified because it
is a highly regulated and frequently purchased product accounting
for a significant proportion of household expenditure and the
survey revealed low levels of consumer trust.
13.9 As the Scoreboard also includes, in Annex II,
national rankings for each of the consumer markets surveyed, the
Commission invites Member States to use these to identify the
best areas in which to concentrate their resources and enforcement
13.10 Data for the UK show that the level of consumer
satisfaction was high in 30 of the 50 consumer markets surveyed,
middle to high in 11 markets, middle to low in eight and low in
one (investments, pensions and securities). Compared with the
other countries surveyed, the UK ranked much lower than the EU
average for new cars and the provision of personal care services
but much higher for clothing and footwear, meat, fruit and vegetables.
13.11 The data also show that "third party compliant
collecting bodies" in the UK, for example, consumer organisations
or regulatory bodies, received a large number of complaints relative
to other Member States, but the Commission suggests that this
may reflect a high level of consumer empowerment in the UK and
effective systems for handling complaints.
The Government's view
13.12 The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State
at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Mr Edward
Davey) says that the Scoreboard demonstrates that the UK has performed
well in a large number of the markets surveyed. The data gathered
by the Commission will provide a useful evidence base for the
Government in identifying priorities for consumer policy. The
Minister notes that the Scoreboard has no direct policy implications
for the UK and that the follow-up action proposed by the Commission
largely concerns further market studies and analysis.
13.13 As we noted in our Report on the version
published in spring,
the Scoreboard contains useful indicators for the Commission and
Member States to determine how well the internal market is functioning
and whether it is meeting the needs and expectations of consumers.
The Scoreboard is for information and we see no need to keep it
under scrutiny. We draw the document to the attention of the House
because of the importance of the subject and the useful comparative
data which the Scoreboard contains.
59 (29422) 5942/08: see HC 16-xiv (2007-08), chapter
7 (5 March 2008). Back
See HC 428-i (2010-11), chapter 25 (8 September 2010). Back