The EFTA Standing Committee and EEA Joint Committee met in Brussels on 22 and 23 September 2016 respectively. At the Joint Committee meeting, 32 decisions were adopted incorporating 53 EU legal acts into the EEA Agreement.
Among these acts was a new set of European rules providing consumers with alternative ways to settle disputes out of court. The incorporation of these rules into the Agreement means that when consumers in the European Economic Area (EEA) have a problem with a trader regarding a product or service that they have paid for, they can settle their dispute out of court through an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) procedure and Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform. Resolving disputes in this way is generally easier, faster and cheaper than before a court. The objective of these rules is to stimulate ADR and thus also to improve consumer trust in cross-border and online trade within the EEA.
The ADR Directive establishes harmonised quality requirements for ADR entities and ADR procedures in order to ensure that consumers have access to high-quality, effective, transparent and fair out-of-court redress mechanisms throughout the Internal Market. ADR procedures must be free of charge or available at a nominal fee for consumers, with a quick outcome (in principle, within 90 days of receipt of the complaint file).
The ODR Regulation establishes an ODR platform in the form of an interactive website offering a centralised point of entry for consumers and traders who seek to resolve disputes arising from online transactions. The platform will, among other things, provide information on out-of-court dispute resolution and allow consumers and traders to fill in an electronic complaint form and attach relevant documents. The platform will then send the complaint to the competent national ADR entity.
The EEA Joint Committee, chaired this semester by Iceland, is responsible for the day-to-day management of the EEA Agreement. It provides a forum for the EEA EFTA States and the EU to exchange views and take decisions by consensus to incorporate EU legislation into the EEA Agreement.
On this occasion, Ambassador Bergdís Ellertsdóttir, Iceland’s Head of Mission, welcomed Ms Sabine Monauni as the newly appointed Ambassador of Liechtenstein to the EU.
So far this year, 193 decisions have been adopted by the EEA Joint Committee, incorporating 306 legal acts into the EEA Agreement.
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