Globalization & Law Seminar with Vanessa Mak

How is the EU responding to the evolving landscape of consumer law in the face of digitalization and climate crisis? On 6 February 2024, the Globalization & Law Network had the privilege of hosting Dr. Vanessa Mak, Professor of Civil Law at Leiden University. Professor Mak's presentation, titled "Who is the Consumer? The Transformation of Consumer Law and Policy in the EU in Light of the Twin Challenges of Digitalisation and Sustainability" introduced thought-provoking ideas about the relevance of the traditional consumer protection model in the modern age.

Historically, EU consumer law has focused on protecting consumers as the vulnerable party. However, this approach may no longer be adequate in the era of digital markets. The emergence of prosumers – consumers actively participating on the supply side – has challenged the normative assumptions underpinning EU consumer law, raising intricate questions regarding the liability of prosumers on online marketplaces like Vinted and the corresponding responsibility of such marketplaces. Moreover, the notion of green consumers, seeking a balance between consumer protection and environmental responsibility - as shown, for instance, by initiatives such as the right to repair - showed the necessity for sustainability in consumer law. In view of these new developments, Professor Mak explored whether the emerging gaps could be addressed by amending existing legal acts, such as the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD), or if entirely new rules are necessary.

Professor Mak’s presentation inspired a stimulating discussion among the audience, delving into questions regarding the potential for reforms in EU consumer law and the delicate balance between paternalism and autonomy within consumer markets.

If you are interested in the intersection of law and a more than ever globalized world, we invite you to join our upcoming seminars organized by the Globalization & Law Network. Stay updated on our program and register here.

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