The definition of the collective interests of consumers present in European positive law is negative and limited to the statement that the collective interests of consumers mean interests which do not include the cumulation of the interests of individuals who have been harmed by an infringement. This notion has been criticized in legal doctrine. In April 2018, the European Commission presented a proposal for a new definition of the collective interests of consumers as part of ‘The New Deal for Consumers’. It is no longer negative but can cause similar problems as the currently binding one due to its lack of clarity. This feature will probably leave European consumers in a disadvantageous position.
The proposal transfers the notion of the collective interests of consumers to the domain of private law, keeping it beyond the scope of the activities of regulatory bodies. The notion of the collective interests of consumers is therefore losing its unique character of being ‘something more’ than a mere sum of individual interests – as designed in the injunctions directive – and a subject of special interest for administrative bodies. The new collective interests of consumers are to be strongly connected to representative actions, i.e. civil law claims regulated by the Member States, either in the codes of civil procedure or in other binding pieces of legislation. This could cause the need for a total change of the consumer protection system, particularly in the Member States that nowadays tend to separate the measures provided by the injunction directive, understood as regulatory means, from other types of collective redress sought in court.European Review of Private Law