Montenegro has good legal standard in the field of protection of consumers’ rights, and education of citizens can provide higher level of protection in that field, it was announced during the national conference organized by Center for Monitoring and Research (CeMI).
The conference was held within the project “Improving capacities of CSOs and the system of consumer protection in Montenegro PROTECT.ME” which is funded by the European Union, and it is being implemented by CeMI, in cooperation with partners Center for Consumers’ Protection (CEZAP), association QUEER Montenegro and Network for the affirmation of European integration processes (MAEIP).
Author of the study “Protection of consumers in European Law and practice of international and national courts”, Bojan Bozovic, said that they tried to bring the practice of European court in Luxembourg and European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg, in the field of protection of customers, closer to the citizens through the study.
“I believe that the higher level of protection of consumers will occur through this study and through education of all citizens in Montenegro. At this moment, we have legal standards that are at European level. However, each citizen should have certain level of awareness in order to have his/her rights protected”, said Bozovic in PR Centre.
On the other hand, as he emphasized, it is important to educate traders on their rights and responsibilities. “We believe they will create better connection in that way”.
“It is very important to understand that everybody needs to be patient enough when it comes to consumers’ protection. That is not a process that will be terminated easily”, said Bozovic.
Speaking about the practice of European courts, Bozovic said it is a lasting process.
“One procedure in European court for Human Rights lasts 5 – 6 years on average. That is not short time, but the consumer should be patient and he/she should believe that the certain level of protection will occur, because that protection is guaranteed through legal acts”, Bozovic stated.
President of Governing Board of CeMI, Zlatko Vujovic, said that large number of citizens is always in touch with some kind of violation of their rights.
“Protection of consumers is at low level and we wanted to learn about, not only our rights as citizens, but also with comparative practice through this project”, Vujovic said.
He reminded us that free legal aid for violation of consumers’ rights is available within the project, and he invited all citizens to address CeMI’s and CEZAP’s legal team.
“We will allocate around 60 000€ of micro grants within the project, in the amount of 5000 to 10 000 €, which means 6 to 12 non-governmental organizations will receive means to make an impact on increase of level of protection of consumers’ rights in Montenegro”, said Vujovic.
He added that the promotion of application for protection of consumers’ rights will start at the beginning of next year, which will provide the opportunity to report the violation of their rights in the field to citizens.
Representative of Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro, Miguel Magro Gomez, reminded that the European community adopted Agenda of European Consumers within the Strategy Europe 2020.
“We would like Montenegro to be compatible with this agenda. The Program for Protection of Consumers 2014/2020 was also adopted. We are especially happy to see that Montenegro is making a progress occasionally regarding the shifting of focus towards the European standards and their adoption into Montenegro’s regulations”, said Gomez.
The EU expects that new regulations in Montenegro will enable strengthening of consumers’ position and better protection of their rights, and also that Montenegro will introduce adequate sanctions similar to those that European institutions and courts undertake.
“For now, Montenegro has specific instruments which help in the protection of consumers’ rights”, Gomez added.
Chief market inspector of Administration for Inspection Affairs, Nada Djurdjic, indicated that negotiations for Chapter 28 Protection of Consumers and Health started in 2014, claiming that not only harmonization of consumer legislation in that field represents an important part, but also the establishment of adequate administrative structures and capacities.
“In this respect, the Administration for Inspection Affairs has planned the strengthening of human resources by increasing the number of inspectors and by educating them in order for them to gain specialized knowledge in the field of economic interests and the protection of consumers of dangerous products on the market”, Djurdjic stated.
According to her words, strengthening of the Administration is important in administrative-legal protection of consumers.
“It is acting on the complaints of consumers after purchasing goods and services in cases where the consumer was not able to resolve the dispute with the merchant”, Djurdjic specified.
During the conference, two panels about the system of protection of consumers in Montenegro were held, as well as key challenges in that field, and panel where the study “Protection of Consumers in European Law and Practice of International and National Courts” was presented.