The transformation of the consumer

The transformation of the consumer

This project seeks to bring together the findings on the consumer concepts and regulatory solutions developed in the sub-projects. Should European consumer laws be reconstructed along contextualised lines, taking account of socio-economic and societal aspects affecting ‘the consumer’ beyond market regulation? If so, how? Which limitations to this approach should be taken into account in the multi-level regulatory framework of the EU?

The research question is normative in nature and asks an overarching and fundamental question for lawmaking in European consumer law: considering that consumer laws are created at the EU level, the national level and through other sources (e.g. private regulation, standardisation) is it desirable to replace the one-size-fits-all approach to consumers with a contextualised approach? The project aims to answer that question by examining the consequences for lawmaking that a turn towards a contextualised consumer in European consumer law concept will have, building on legal pluralist theories (Micklitz 2018Mak 2020). The legal pluralist model has gained acceptance in recent years, a process coinciding with a slow-down in top-down harmonisation by the EU legislator. The Digital Services Act (DSA) package does not seem to change this outlook. Although the DSA can again give a boost to regulation at the EU level, in it relies heavily on voluntary monitoring by platform operators. Only very large online platforms (‘gatekeepers’, Art. 3 Digital Markets Act) are subject to stricter regulation, focusing on controlling the market power that they gain through data aggregation. Given this legal framework, the project will examine how a contextualised approach to consumer protection can be introduced in European consumer laws.

Duration 2023-2027
Researcher Vanessa Mak