Approaches to the Different Levels of Consumer Protection in European Contract law, focusing on Food Safety Regulations


  • Gael Langosch



In the area of contract law an important aspect is consumer protection, on the national and European level, which involves cross border elements. Within the European Union Directives and Regulations secure a minimum level of protection for the consumer. These laws are designed to prevent business to gain by fraud or unfair practices; they protect the weaker party, the consumer, from the stronger party, the businesses. In Article 2 (B) of Directive 93/13/EEC on unfair terms in consumer contracts, a consumer is defined as “any natural person who, is acting for purposes which are outside his business, trade or profession.” To achieve the optimal level of consumer protection within the EU, in order for the internal market to work properly; the aim of this paper is to address the following research question: “How to approach the differences in level of Consumer protection, in a civil law country compared to a country under the common law regime?”. In order to be able to outline some of the differences the issue of food safety will be used as a case-study.


Primary Sources:

COM (2011), proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on a Common European Sales Law, 635 final.

Directive 85/577/EEC, of the Council to protect the consumer in respect of contracts negotiated away from business premises, [1985] O.J. L.372/31.

Directive 87/102/EEC, of the Council for the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States concerning consumer credit, [1987] O.J. L.42.

Directive 93/13/EEC, of the Council on unfair terms in consumer contracts, [1993] O.J.L.95/29.

Directive 97/7/EC, of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of consumers in respect of distance contracts, [1997] O.J. L.43.

Directive 97/47/EC, of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of consumers in respect of distance contracts, [1997] O.J. L 144/19.

Directive 1999/44/EC, of the European Parliament and of the Council on certain aspects of the sale of consumer goods and associated, [1999] O.J. L 171/12.

Directive 2005/29/EC, of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the internal market, [2005] O.J. L 149/22.

Directive 2011/83/EC on consumer rights, amending Council Directive 93/13/EEC and Directive 1999/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and repealing Council Directive 85/577/EEC and Directive 97/7/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, [2011] O.J. L. 304/64.

Regulation 178/2002, of the European Parliament and of the Council, laying down the general principles and requirements of food law, establishing the European Food Safety Authority and laying down procedures in matters of food safety, [2002], O.J. L 31.1.

Regulation 1169/2011, of the European Parlimanet and of the Council on the provision of food information to consumers [2011] O.J. L. 304/18.

Secondary Sources:

D. Barling et al., ‘Joined-up Food Policy? The Trials of Governance, Public Policy and the Food System’, 36 Social Policy & Administration 6 (2002).

B. Barrett, ‘Consumer Safety Act 1978’, 41 The Modern Law Review 6 (1978).

M.T. Ciceronis, De Republica, (Lipsiae, 1827).

H. Collins, Standard Contract Terms in Europe: A Basis for and a Challenge to European Contract Law, (Kluwer, 2008).

R. Goode, Contract and Commercial Law: the Logic and Limits of Harmonisatio, (Metro, 2003).

Gomez & Ganuza, An Economic Analysis of Harmonization Regimes: Full Harmonization, Minimum Harmonization or Optional Instrumen, 2011.

O. Lando, ‘Optional or mandatory Europeanisation of contract law’ 8 European Review of Private Law (2000).

O. Lando, ‘The Lex Mercatoria in International Commercial Arbitration’, 34 The International and Comparative Law Quarterly 4 (1985).

N. Reich, ‘Harmonisation of European contract law: with special emphasis on consumer law’, 1 China-EU Law Journal 2 (2011).

J. Smits, ‘Introduction to special issue: Harmonisation of contract law: an economic and behavioural perspective’ 33 European Journal of Law and Economics 3 (2012).

S. Vogenauer & S. Weatherill, The Harmonisation of European Contract Law- Implications for European Private Laws, Business and Legal Practice, (Hart Publishing 2006).

E.Vos & F. Wendler, Food Safety Regulation in Europe. A Comparative Institutional Analysis, (Intersentia, 2006).

Wippermann, 125 Jahre “Institut für gesundheitlichen Verbraucherschutz und Veterinärmedizin” -3000 Jahre Geschichte des Verbraucherschutzes, 2001, retrieved via , last visited 13.07.2013.

Health & Consumer Protection Directorate- General ‘Consumer Protection in the European Union: Ten Basic Principles’, retrieved via , last visited 13.07.2013.