MEPs in the European Parliament Legal Affairs Committee today backed new proposals that would allow groups of European citizens to bring lawsuits collectively against large companies.
S&D spokesperson for the collective redress proposal Mady Delvaux said:
“In 2015 it was revealed that Volkswagen had cheated on emissions tests to make their cars appear greener and safer than they in fact were. This had huge health and environmental consequences, affecting millions of consumers and citizens in both Europe and the USA. While US consumers received part of a 15 billion dollar payout, EU consumers have still received nothing. This is because in the US, consumers can bring lawsuits collectively against large companies, while in Europe they cannot. We have long pushed for EU rules to allow for collective redress and these were finally put forward by the European Commission earlier this year.
“Despite strong lobbying from multinational companies and right-wing groups, we have managed to strengthen these proposals today. We have ensured that there is no exception for air and rail passenger rights, as the Commission had proposed. As we saw from the chaos this summer with Ryanair, it is essential that passengers have means to bring cases collectively as well. We have also ensured that consumers will not have to wait years to get compensation, as the proposal will allow for parallel court action, one on the infringement itself and one on the matter of redress.
We have also made sure that third party funding for consumer organisations representing the collective action will be allowed, provided they fulfil the criteria of transparency and do not have a conflict of interest. This will make it easier for groups of consumers to organise and bring cases together. Although we are disappointed that the rules will only cover consumers, not all citizens, we have managed to fight off attempts by big business to water down the proposals.
“We now need to finalise these laws as soon as possible, so multinationals will have to think carefully before engaging in unethical behaviour and consumers will have a means of redress if and when they do.”