Τhe Competition and Consumer Protection Service of the Ministry of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism is the competent authority for promoting consumer policy and protection.
The mission of the Competition and Consumer Protection Service is the high level consumer protection in the newly liberalized and competitive environment. The Service is responsible for the introduction of competition policy, as well as the introduction and enforcement of legislation on consumer issues.
The main objective of the Service is to create a competitive environment throughout the domestic market towards the effective protection of safety and economic interests of consumers. With regards to products, the Service is responsible only for non-food products safety. In addition, the Service pursues to enhance consumers’ welfare in terms of price, choice, quality, diversity, affordability and safety and to empower consumers.
Within this framework, the Competition and Consumer Protection Service is responsible, inter alia, for the enforcement/implementation of different legislation in an effort to safeguard the economic interests of consumers such as the Unfair Commercial Practices Law, the Consumer Credit Law etc, and to ensure the safety of the products offered to them.
In addition to the above, the Service operates a toll free telephone line – 1429, through which the consumer may require information on his/her rights, provide information about the market status and submit a complaint for further investigation by the Service. Furthermore, the Service conducts market studies and market surveillance activities on a regular basis and provides consumers with information regarding the market price levels of basic consumer goods, including fuels. The aforementioned information is provided through the Price Observatories, which are carried out on regular basis and published on the Ministry’s webpage (www.mcit.gov.cy) and in the national press.
In addition to the above in May 2004 the Council of Ministers agreed to the proposal of the Ministry of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism for the establishment of a Unit at the Competition and Consumer Protection Service for the protection of the citizen, the consumer and the business person. The Unit already hosts the European networks of:
– SOLVIT: An on-line problem solving network in which EU Member States work together to solve without legal proceedings problems caused by the misapplication of Internal Market law by public authorities – the use of SOLVIT is free of charge,
– IMI: The Internal Market Information System (IMI) is a fully multi-lingual application, facilitating the exchange of information between competent authorities of the Member States across the EEA that are involved in the practical implementation of EU law,
– RAPEX: A network system which deals with the rapid exchange of information between the member states, regarding dangerous products placed on the market,
– Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC): The Service is the competent authority for the implementation of the European Regulation (EC) No.2006/2004, on Consumer Protection Cooperation. The Regulation entered into force on 29 December 2006 and is exclusively applied to intra-community, cross-border infringements of law, concerning the protection of economic interests of consumers,
– European Consumer Centre Cyprus (ECC Cyprus): An EU-wide network which promotes consumer confidence by advising citizens on their rights as consumers and helps through its mediating role in finding an amicable out of court settlement particularly in cases where problems arise in cross-border purchases / transactions between consumers and suppliers.
The “Europe 28” necessitates a separate/special and more important role for the citizen/consumer and the organizations that represent them. Therefore, the Competition and Consumer Protection Service is actively participating in shaping consumer policy at Union Level, participating in the Committees and Working Parties of the European Council and the European Commission, and makes efforts for the implementation of the European Consumer Strategy. With the accession of Cyprus to the EU the establishment of institutions and bodies responsible for market surveillance in Cyprus was further strengthened.
The implementation of the harmonized legislations in the field of consumer protection offers a high level of protection to consumers. As a consequence the Service promoted the setting up of an alternative dispute resolution mechanism through which a consumer may seek redress to a problem he/she may have by applying to an out of court body. It is expected that the mechanism will soon be enacted. Similar mechanisms also operate in other EU Member States.
For further information:
Ministry of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism website: www.mcit.gov.cy