The concept or idea of the consumer made a significant development in the field of EC consumer law throughout the time. All started in the ‘70s with the upraising of the ‘weak consumer’ who needed guidance and support to counterbalance unequal market power and misuse of private autonomy. The focus of consumer law lay on consumer protection and was mainly achieved in a national approach that respected the specific legal traditions and the socio-economic culture.
The next stage was, mainly inspired by the ECJ and its definition (which was developed in unfair commercial practices) of the well-informed, average circumspect and average responsible consumer (or in short the ‘average consumer’), the ‘circumspect consumer’ who now has to play an active role in completing the Internal Market. The main actor of consumer policy and law was not anymore the nation states but the European Commission; but still there was room for the Member States for adjustments within the scope of minimum harmonisation.
The last and recent development is the notion of the ‘economically efficient consumer’ who needs help in her task to ‘reap up’ the benefits from the Internal Market. This new concept expected from the European consumer not only to compare prices and to be circumspect at all time, but she shall buy products and services across Europe. Language is no barrier anymore and the consumer shall be convinced that she has everywhere in Europe the same rights; consumers are only guided by economic efficiency. This last development of the European consumer concept also means a shift from minimum to full harmonization and narrowing down the leeway for the Member States’ national consumer laws.
- Average consumer,
- Food Law,
- Consumer Law,
- average circumspect and average responsible consumer
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/luis_gonzalez_vaque/125/