Consumer empowerment strategies: A rights oriented approach versus a needs-oriented approach

M.W. de Hoon, V. Mak

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientific


    In this article we argue that a rights oriented approach alone cannot achieve effective consumer empowerment. A critical point that is often overlooked in the Commission’s striving to create and to fine-tune consumer rights, is that these rights do not necessarily coincide with consumer needs. Consumers needs are, unlike most rights, directly related to the problems the consumers encounter. Knowledge of rights and enforcing them if necessary are means to satisfy the underlying needs. However, research shows that significant groups of consumers still struggle with effecting remedies when the trader or service provider fails satisfactorily to perform the contract. Empowerment of consumers calls for a mixture of rights and needs. Neither one of them can be left out. Still, until recently, rights have had much more attention than needs. This paper gives an overview of what we know about the needs of European consumers so far. It presents several ways in which EU consumer law falls short of responding to actual consumer needs and makes recommendations for improvement.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)518-534
    JournalZeitschrift für Europäisches Privatrecht
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


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