Clarity sought over future of UK European Consumer Centre
The UK European Consumer Centre (UK ECC), a consumer service joint-funded by the UK Government and the EU could face closure, and its staff made redundant if action is not taken to retain its funding after December 31.
The consumer service, founded in 2007, is part of a network throughout EU member states plus Iceland and Norway offering UK consumers support with queries about companies and products purchased in those states.
Earlier this month, Consumer Minister Paul Scully was asked in parliament about the future of UK consumer protection post-Brexit. The Minister responded: "Individual consumers will still be able to use the European Consumer Centre, which helps consumers with cross-border disputes, for at least one year after transition.
"We will work with partners such as Citizens Advice, the consumer helpline of which is funded by my Department, to ensure that consumers understand their rights and can make informed decisions following the transition period."
Whilst this statement is welcome, the particulars of this agreement are yet to be confirmed, and it is currently unclear in what capacity the centre will continue.
Andy Allen, Service Director at UK ECC, said: "I welcome the Minister's statement in parliament, but as the clock runs down to December 31 the need for clarity and a definite confirmation becomes increasingly essential.
"This year, UK ECC has seen a surge in demand for advice from consumers due to the effects of COVID-19 coronavirus legislation. I cannot overstate how important this free service is for UK consumers, especially during this challenging time, and its potential loss will weaken UK consumer protection.
"I hope that we will be able to work towards a solution which retains the centre and the high level of support it gives to consumers who have made purchases from European companies outside the UK."
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