International News - EU health chief to shake up law

The incoming European Commissioner for health and consumer affairs has committed himself to comprehensively overhauling the European Union's consumer protection legislation.

He aims to kick start Europe's cross-border shopping market. Cyprus's Markos Kyprianou said existing laws were a 'patchwork'.

Calling for greater harmonisation of national laws, he said: 'If the present fragmentation continues, then the reluctance of consumers to buy outside their national market, even when they are likely to find a better deal elsewhere, will continue'.

With only 12.4 per cent of EU citizens having bought anything other than hotel and travel services in a foreign member state, 'a harmonised response is needed so that consumers can be sure they are equally safe wherever they shop in the EU'.

Furthermore, Kyprianou said he would stage a thorough review of EU laws on food labels to make them clearer to consumers. 'Food labels tend to be complex and unclear, which goes against the desired objective,' he said, promising to stage 'in-depth discussion with all interested parties' to develop 'a framework for clear language labelling'.

Kyprianou added: 'We need to find an approach that emphasises key data needs, so consumers are not overwhelmed with a plethora of less important and often confusing information.'