Consumer policy is concerned with the acquisition by individuals of goods and services for personal use. It focusses on key concepts such as consumer rights, responsibilities of producers and sellers and the overall functioning of the market with the aim of ensuring the health, safety and economic well-being of citizens. Policymaking in this area is concerned with intervening in the markets to address issues that concern the welfare of citizens. Such interventions might be required as a result of marketplace abuses (e.g. misleading advertising), market failures (e.g. environmental pollution), unsafe products or services and/or the need to ensure the economic or social welfare of citizens.
Interventions in the area of consumer policy aim to protect and inform consumers, providing empowerment and protection through regulation, consumer education or other training and incentives, to encourage certain types of consumer behaviour. Within the EU, the European Consumer Agenda sets out the vision of the European Commission in the area of consumer policy. It aims to increase confidence by: reinforcing consumer safety; enhancing knowledge; stepping up enforcement and making redress readily accessible; aligning consumer rights and policies to changes in society and in the economy. EU consumer policy is concerned with empowering EU consumers through accurate information, market transparency and the confidence that stems from effective consumer protection, particularly for cross-border trade. It also aims to enhance consumer welfare in terms of price, choice and quality, and ensure that consumers are protected from serious risks and threats.
RPA has been working in the public policy area for over 15 years, providing high quality analysis and input to guide policy makers at the local, national and EU levels in making the most appropriate interventions to address a wide range of issues affecting citizens. These issues include those associated with ensuring the health of citizens from the manufacture and use of chemicals, ensuring the social welfare of citizens in the face of flooding and erosion and ensuring that the safety and rights of citizens are maintained during recreation and tourism activities.
Since 1997, we have been involved in a number of key studies aimed at ensuring a high level of consumer safety across the UK and EU. Our team has a comprehensive understanding of the risks to health and safety from consumer goods and services, and the interactions between consumer protection, risk assessment and regulatory practice. Consumer policy analysis draws on a number of key disciplines such as consumer behaviour, micro-economics, behavioural economics, law and competition, marketing, public health, etc., and our work in this area reflects these disciplines.
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