Harmonization of the protection against misleading commercial practices: ongoing divergences in Central European countries
Research background: Modern European integration focuses on competition in the internal single market, embracing both competitiveness and consumer protection, and it aims at full harmonization in this arena. The hallmark, the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive from 2005, aims to overcome diverse social, political, legal and economic traditions. Is the implied protection against misleading practices an opportunity or a threat for Central European Regions?
Purpose of the article: The primary purpose is to comparatively describe and critically assess the transposed legal frameworks. The secondary purpose is to study and evaluate their coherence in the light of the case law and their impact in Central Europe, in particular whether it represents an opportunity or a threat for the smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, i.e. boosting competitiveness and innovation along with consumer welfare.
Methods: The cross-disciplinary and multi-jurisdictional nature of this paper, and its dual purposes, implies the use of Meta-Analysis, of various interpretation techniques suitable for legal texts and judicial decisions, of the critical comparison and of a holistic assessment of approaches and impacts. Legislation and case law are explored and the yielded knowledge and data are confronted with a field search and case studies. The dominating qualitative research and data are complemented by the quantitative research and data.
Findings & Value added: For over one decade, the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive has required full harmonization of the protection against, among other items, misleading commercial practices, by legislatures and judges in the EU. The exploration pursuant to the two purposes suggests that this ambitious legislative and case law project entails a number of transposition approaches with varying levels of coherence, importance and impacts on the competitiveness and innovation of business and consumer welfare in Central Europe. Therefore, full harmonization should be either readjusted or relaxed.
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