On 4 February 2011 the Commission launched a public consultation35 which was aimed at achieving a coherent approach towards collective redress in the European Union. This initiative follows several other initiatives the Commission already undertook concerning collective redress in the field of consumer and competition law with, amongst others, a green paper and white paper on antitrust damages actions.
In the public consultation the European Commission started off by stating that the private enforcement of EU law is a crucial factor in the enforcement of EU law. This private enforcement can be realised through individual redress, but the Commission noted that in some cases individual redress is neither effective nor practical. In those instances, collective redress can be a useful and efficient means to enforce EU law.
The Commission then stressed the fact that collective redress is not unknown in the European Union and that the majority of the Member States have some kind of collective redress. However, the Commission noted that the different Member States have very different systems of collective redress which undermined the enjoyment of rights by citizens and businesses and give rise to uneven enforcement of those rights. Hence, the need for this public consultation which could lead to a European framework on common principles applicable to collective redress.
Subsequently, the Commission posed questions on the added value of such a European framework on collective redress, the instrument needed and the essential principles to guide further action on collective redress.