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  • Euro Ncap
  • Спілка об’єднань громадян «Всеукраїнська Федерація Споживачів «ПУЛЬС»
  • Consumer Initiative Center

European Union and United Nations Development Programme accomplish the first national comprehensive project on consumer rights protection.

  • Ukraine has declared a course towards European integration and acceptance of European values and living standards for which sound economic governance and functioning market are of utmost importance. Formation of democracy and functioning market is impossible without empowered consumers knowing their rights and willing to exercise them, as many experts say.

    International donor organizations and Ukrainian consumer Civil society organizations have gathered during the concluding roundtable meeting regarding the results of work of the first national EU-funded project Consumer Society and Citizen Networks which worked in the sphere of consumer rights protection and consumer empowerment .

    "Citizens are the essential engine in a market that is competitive, innovative and set for growth", said said Hans RHEIN, Acting Head of Operations of the European Commission to Ukraine.

    The joint initiavite of the European Union and United Nations Development Programme "Consumer Society and Citizen Networks" ha s been the first attempt in Ukraine to tackle a complex of issues involving enhancing access to consumer information, assistance to judiciary system involved into CRP, capacity building of consumer CSOs and consumer education. The Project lasted from April 2006 to December 2009 and it has brought about a number of formidable changes in the attitude of Ukrainians towards protection of their consumer rights.

    "We strongly feel that our joint EU-UNDP Initiative "Consumer Society and Citizen Networks" was an adequate response to the needs of contemporary Ukrainian society in its strive for having good governance and market economy. UNDP is ready to continue cooperation on consumer issues and provide the national counterparts access to the best EU experiences in this area, as well as full operational support", - says JoannaKAZANA-WISNIOWIECKA, Deputy Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme.

    Ukraine has become a pioneer in introducing consumer education into the secondary schools curriculum by developing consumer essentials course both for secondary schools, higher educational establishments and additionally for civil servants. Among basic principles of the

    United Nations Guidelines for consumer protection and European consumer directives is establishment of consumer education as an integral part of the basic curriculum of the educational system, preferably as a component of existing subjects.

    In partnership with the Ministry of education and science of Ukraine, the consumer project has developed and piloted consumer essentials course in 3000 schools, 50 universities already, which in ten years time will result in appearance of a new generation of knowledgeable consumers aware of their rights and willing to protect them.

    Acknowledging the impact of Project's activities over the three years, the deputy Head of the State Committee for technical regulation and consumer policy Yuriy SHYRKO believes several of them to be most considerable, such as knowledge and information sharing, development of Consumer Portal, development of cooperation Strategy between the State Committee for technical regulation and consumer policy with consumer CSOs, facilitation of cooperation between European and Ukrainian CSOs, introduction and promotion of Consumer Satisfaction Index Methodology; promotion of Consumer friendly Business Practices and its other results. State Committee for Technical Regulation and consumer policy hopes that consolidation effort that the Project has vested into bringing together consumer organizations in Ukraine will be sustainable enough after the termination of the Project.

    At the initial phase of Consumer Society and Citizen Networks project it was apparent that only 20% of Ukrainian consumers declared readiness to take an active stance in protection of their consumer interests. And only 3-5% did something to make it really happen. Owing to nationwide consumer awareness campaign and 8 consecutive waves of outdoor public consumer advertising educating consumers and spurring them to exercise their rights, the survey of consumer behaviour conducted in June 2009 showed that twice less consumers admit that they are not aware of their rights. Over the three years there has been a significant change in the structure of information sources. The importance and share of trust towards results of independent testing has increased, people now give more credit to objective information from independent sources especially that received from civil society organizations . Consumers admit that there are areas of special interest: testing results of goods quality by independent consumer organizations (40%); quality certificates issued by special controlling institutions (39%); decisions of independent experts on quality of Products (35%); how to distinguish a product of high quality from a falsified one (32%).

    At the same time, further development of consumer society in Ukraine faces many challenges. For instance, consumers in Ukraine often require more proactive approach to be properly informed about their basic rights, confirmed by international and Ukrainian society. "Securing for a Ukrainian consumer the rightful place among other players of market economy will not be easy", - says Klavdia MAKSIMENKO, project manager of the "Consumer Society and Citizen Networks" Project. The Project has initiated an ongoing public dialogue on product safety, consumer rights protection and introduced a concept of independent testing of products and services among Ukrainian specialists and media.

    Development perspectives for consumer agenda in Ukraine are vast. Given the high general activism of Ukrainian consumers, the system of state mechanisms are to be developed to provide for effective redress procedures and alternative dispute resolution practices as well as development of a balanced consumer policy in Ukraine.

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