Objective of the directive
The objective of the EU Directive on unfair commercial practices from 2005 was to boost consumer confidence and make it easier for businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, to trade across borders. It is the overarching EU legislation regulating unfair commercial practices that occur before, during and after a business-to-consumer transaction has taken place.
EU rules on unfair commercial practices enable national enforcers to curb a broad range of unfair business practices. Examples of unfair business practices include untruthful information to consumers or aggressive marketing techniques to influence their choices.
The Directive has been amended by Directive (EU) 2019/2161 of 27 November 2019 on better enforcement and modernisation of Union consumer protection rules, part of the "Review of EU consumer law - New Deal for Consumers”
Consolidated text of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive
Regulatory choices under the Directive
Member States must inform the Commission about their use of the regulatory choices provided by certain Articles of the Directive. The Commission makes the Member States' notifications publicly available.
On 17 December 2021, the European Commission adopted a new Commission Notice on the interpretation and application of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (‘the UCPD Guidance’), as announced in the New Consumer Agenda. The Notice replaces the previous UCPD Guidance, a Commission Staff Working Document from 2016.
The purpose of the UCPD Guidance is to facilitate the proper application of the directive. It also aims at increasing awareness of the directive amongst all interested parties, such as consumers, businesses, the authorities of the Member States, including national courts and legal practitioners, across the EU. It covers the amendments introduced by Directive (EU) 2019/2161 that enter into application from 28 May 2022.
The UCPD Guidance provides additional legal interpretation on key questions and topics, for example:
- interplay with other EU legislation;
- environmental claims and planned obsolescence;
- ‘dual quality’ marketing of goods;
- obligations of online platforms and marketplaces;
- transparency of search results;
- consumer reviews and endorsements;
- influencer marketing;
- data-driven personalisation and dark patterns;
- gaming practices;
- consumer lock-in;
- obligations in the travel and transport sector;
- enforcement and penalties.