Social considerations in EU consumer law: The legislator, the court and a rhapsody in blue

Vanessa Mak

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


EU consumer law generally refers to rights which facilitate the economic participation of EU citizens in the internal market. Social rights, which extend to other aspects of consumers’ lives such as employment, social inclusion, and environmental protection, are perceived to fall outside the realm of European consumer law, although they have received more attention in the wake of the economic crisis. Does that mean that they are of a secondary nature, and exist solely in the shadow of the EU’s internal market goals? While the answer to that question might still in essence be ‘yes’, this chapter aims to show that the EU has progressively come to express a greater commitment to the social rights of consumers. Articles 2 and 3(3) TEU include social rights firmly within the values and objectives of EU law. More specific consumer protection rules laid down in Articles 12, 114(3) and 169(1) TFEU confirm that social rights, in the sense of non-economic rights, are part and parcel of the EU’s internal market project. While these provisions have until now sparingly led to the introduction of social rights in consumer legislation, the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) has stepped into the void left by the legislator and in its case law has achieved the protection of social rights of consumers through contract law. Nonetheless, while the CJEU can be an important recourse for individual rights protection, the baton will have to be returned to the EU legislator to promote the further development of social rights in European consumer law.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe EU social market economy and the law
Subtitle of host publicationTheoretical perspectives and practical challenges for the EU
EditorsDelia Ferri, Fulvio Cortese
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781351068529
ISBN (Print)9781138478480
Publication statusPublished - 2018


Dive into the research topics of 'Social considerations in EU consumer law: The legislator, the court and a rhapsody in blue'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this