The consumer conditions scoreboard. Consumers at home in the single market.
Subject headingsConsumer Markets
Europe’s future growth depends on stimulating innovation and improving the function-ing of the single market. The demand side of the single market can make a signifi cant contribution to these goals. Consumers who are empowered, and who understand the abundance and complexity of the choices they face, reward effi cient and innovative busi-nesses, thereby sharpening competition and stimulating innovation. Thus, it is important to identify the markets and sectors where consumers fi nd it hard to make the right choic-es, where consumer confi dence is low and problems abound, and where consumers fi nd it hard to switch or see little competition. This is the purpose of the Scoreboard.There is widespread acknowledgement of the need to identify those parts of the single market which are not working well for consumers.The Europe 2020 strategy1 recognises that: ‘To gear the single market to serve the Europe 2020 goals requires well-functioning and well-connected markets, where competition and consumer access stimulate growth and innovation.’Guideline 6 of the Europe 2020 integrated guidelines on improving the business and consumer environment emphasises that ‘Member States should ensure that markets work for citizens, consumers and businesses.’ The Commission’s Annual Growth Survey report on Europe 2020 progress also identifi ed consumer conditions among ‘growth drivers or framework conditions to growth’.The Consumer Markets Scoreboard is the Commission’s main tool for identifying poten-tially underperforming sectors in the single market. In a second stage, the markets that appear to be underperforming are analysed in depth in order to gain a better insight into the problems and identify measures that can be taken to address them.Ranking diff erent markets, based on consumer views of their functioning on a compara-ble basis, provides an important indication of where markets are failing consumers. The individual characteristics of each market are fully addressed in the in-depth studies.1 COM(2010) 2020.The majority of the Scoreboard data is supplied by a survey of consumer markets which provides comparable consumer opinions, across all EU countries, for 51 consumer mar-kets, accounting for more than 60 % of the household budget. The survey does not cover housing, education or most medical products and services. Carrying out this survey at EU level leads to signifi cant economies of scale and a wide comparability of market per-formance. It also allows best practices to be identifi ed. The survey was conducted among consumers who had recent or ongoing purchasing experience of each market, thus en-suring that it refl ects relevant experience rather than uninformed opinion. This being the second edition of the survey, it can be compared with 2010. Consumer perceptions aff ect businesses behaviour, as they provide a clear indication of market malfunctioning from a consumer perspective. Other indicators are also used in order to incorporate the various aspects of market functioning and to complete the analysis.The survey is based on random sampling. The telephone interviews were conducted between March and May 2011 with a sample of 500 people (aged 18+) for each of the 51 markets and in each EU Member State (250 people in Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta). In total, over 650,000 individual markets assessments were carried out. The EU-level results are based on a confi dence level of 95 % with a margin of error up to +/- 0.85 %. The full details of the survey are included in the survey report2.Prices for comparable and representative goods and services across the EU were pro-vided by Eurostat and other sources (European Central Bank, Commission’s Market Ob-servatory for Energy, Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition). The Member States provided the data relating to complaints. The Commission is cur-rently working with national complaint bodies on the implementation of the Complaints Recommendation3, which will enable future Scoreboards to include fully comparable complaints data across the EU
Number of pages60p.
EC(2011) 1271 final