Legislation and policy

Serbian consumer legislation

The importance of consumer protection policy in Serbia is illustrated by the fact that the Constitution of Serbia (Art. 90) explicitly states that the Republic of Serbia shall protect consumers, strictly prohibiting “activities directed against health, security and privacy of consumers and all other dishonest activities on the market”.
As a policy goal aligned to EU concepts and standards, consumer protection was firstly introduced in 2002 (under the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro), with the adoption of a comprehensive consumer protection law at the federal level that introduced major improvements.
Following new constitutional arrangements, the sector of consumer protection was transferred to Republic control and a framework Consumer Protection Law (CLP) was adopted in 2005.
The most significant change took place in 2010 when a new Law on Consumer Protection was adopted, entering into force on 1st January 2011.
The Law has the structure of a framework law for consumer protection, stating fundamental rights of the consumers, transposing 15 EU directives into the Serbian legal order, also calling for institutional reforms and long-term strategic planning in the area of consumer protection.
The CLP deals with the following subject matters: indication of prices, pre-contractual duty to inform, unfair commercial practices, distance and off-premises contracts, unfair terms in consumer contracts, warranties associated with consumer goods, product liability, services contracts, services of general economic interest, package holiday and timeshare agreements.
It also contains provisions on institutions in charge of consumer protection, including non-governmental consumer organizations. It calls for the establishment of a National Council for Consumer Protection.
Final provisions concern consumer redress procedures through out-of-court bodies, injunctions proceedings, market surveillance and penalty provisions.

Apart from the framework law on consumer protection there are a number of other pieces of legislation with a direct impact on consumer protection. Such laws include: the Law on Trade  and Law on Advertising

European consumer policy

Consumer Policy is one of the common policies of the European Union. The competence in the area of consumer protection is shared between the Union and the Member States.

It is based on the provisions of the Article 169 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union  (ex Articles 153 of the Treaty establishing the European Community).

These aims, in accordance to the Article 169 (§1), are ‘to promote the interests of consumers and to ensure a high level of consumer protection’. In order to achieve these aims ‘the Community shall contribute to protecting the health, safety and economic interests of consumers as well as to promoting their right to information, education and to organise themselves to safeguard their interests.’

It is clear that consumer policy should be integrated with other policies of the EU. Consumer protection requirements shall be taken into account in defining and implementing other Community policies and actions.
Consumer policy is designed to ensure that the internal market is open, fair and transparent, allowing consumers to exercise real choice, excluding rogue traders, and helping consumers and businesses take full advantage of the market’s potential.

Increasing consumer confidence in the Single Market is one of the priorities of the current EU policy as described in the Single Market Act .