Lifting the barriers to internal trade and consumer protection : The Example of the European Union


Yannick Labelle


Union des consommateurs




Internal trade is presented as the ideal means to ensure Canada’s economic health and foster our companies’ prosperity and innovation. While external trade has grown by leaps and bounds following the conclusion of various free-trade agreements in the last thirty years, internal trade has reportedly not experienced the same growth, particularly because of the persistent presence of tariff and nontariff barriers, such as the differences between provincial regulations.

Among those non-harmonized regulations are the various consumer protection laws adopted by the provinces and territories to protect vulnerable parties in commercial transactions. In addition to the very existence of those laws, the differences between them can entail substantial costs to companies that must, depending on the province, comply with disparate regulations.

After describing the state of internal trade in Canada, Union des consommateurs’ (UC) report focuses on the approach advocated in Europe. UC’s analysis of European directives adopted to harmonize the consumer protection legislation of its Member States identifies the fields that this regional economic block has seen fit to harmonize, as well as the approaches taken.

The consumer protection harmonization agreements reached in Canada are paltry compared to the European Union’s achievements, constituted by several hundred directives and regulations. UC has analysed 13 directives pertaining to consumer protection in the strictest sense. UC’s report analyses the European approach, its principles, and the means and tools used for ensuring effective harmonization between the legislations of the autonomous Member States.

UC’s report studies the possibility and relevance of Canadian harmonization efforts in fields where other countries have deemed it appropriate to act. UC examines the difficulties that those countries’ harmonization undertakings would pose if applied in Canada, as well as possible solutions, and UC discusses the harmonization process prevailing in Canada.

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OCA Funded Research
This research received funding support through the Office of Consumer Affairs' Contributions Program.

Contact information

Union des consommateurs
7000 Parc Ave, Suite 201
Montreal, QC  H3N 1X1
(514) 521-6820
(514) 521-0736

Source: Consumer Policy Research Database

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