World MAINTENANCE. European collective action: "In the face of multinationals, only unity is strength"

20:36  24 november  2020
20:36  24 november  2020 Source:   ouest-france.fr

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In European social history, collective action has ranged from communal bread baking to electoral campaigns, from idol-smashing to revolution. Participants in collective action , furthermore, regularly claim to speak in the name of such structures—our guild, our confraternity, our lineage, our

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Geoffroy Didier lors d'un débat dans l'hémicycle du Parlement européen à Bruxelles © European Parliament Geoffroy Didier during a debate in the hemicycle of the European Parliament in Brussels

New rules have been adopted by MEPs Tuesday to allow European citizens to better defend their rights through collective redress. They will give the possibility to European representative organizations to bring collective actions in other countries or to join such actions abroad, explains MEP Geoffroy Didier, rapporteur for the text.

The European Parliament on Tuesday November 24, 2020 approved new legislation which will allow consumer groups to join forces and launch collective actions in the European Union, often called class action.

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A multinational corporation (MNC) is a corporate organization that owns or controls production of goods or services in at least one country other than its home country.

All Member States must now put in place within at least two years an effective procedural mechanism enabling consumer associations or public bodies to take legal action with the aim of a ban or of a compensation . In order to prevent the abuse of these procedures, as is sometimes the case in the United States, "punitive damages" should be avoided.

This reform follows a series of scandals linked to the violation of consumer rights by multinational companies, such as the “Dieselgate” from Volkswagen . French MEP Geoffroy Didier (LR - PPE) carried this text and explained to Ouest-France how it is a step forward.

In France, the principle of collective redress already exists. What will the European “class action” bring?

The French system is cumbersome, complicated and small in the sense that a French person today cannot associate with people in other countries. With the European class action, he will be able to join forces with an Italian consumer or a German consumer if they suffer the same damage. Everyone knows that taking action alone is long, costly and uncertain. In the face of very powerful multinationals, only unity is strength. It is only by joining forces with others that one can maximize one's chances of redress in court.

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Multinational concerns were viewed at that time as agents of civilization and played a pivotal role in the commercial and industrial development of Asia, South America, and Africa. By the end of the 19th century, advances in communications had more closely linked world markets, and multinational

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There are safeguards in this text… To avoid the abuses observed in the United States?

There was no reason that European consumers should be less well protected than Americans. This injustice has now been rectified. But we did not want to import into Europe the excesses of the American system. That is to say that, for example, we did not accept that hedge funds or large law firms could themselves bring an action allegedly on behalf of consumers by instrumentalizing these remedies to destabilize a competitor, to make money off the backs of consumers and ultimately to deflect such recourse from its purpose.

You are implementing the “loser pays” principle. Can you tell us what this is about?

The loser will pay the costs of the proceedings. Why ? We wanted to dissuade those who would use this remedy for reasons other than consumer protection by ensuring that everyone takes their responsibilities.

The idea is not to sanction companies, there will be no punitive damages, but only to allow compensation for the damage suffered. The idea is to deter companies from committing possible illegal practices and to create a virtuous circle rather than punishing the principle.

Could these class actions be used as part of a scandal like Dieselgate?

It won't be retroactive. First, because imposing retroactivity would have weakened legal certainty for companies. We wanted to find a fair balance between increased demand for legitimate consumer protection and legal certainty for businesses, which is necessary, especially in view of the crisis.

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usr: 0
This is interesting!