ELI Webinar on the Sustainable Consumption of Goods


On 27 April 2022, ELI held a webinar aimed at presenting and discussing ELI’s recent Response to the European Commission’s Public Consultation on the Sustainable Consumption of Goods as well as reflecting on the topic more broadly.

The webinar was opened by Pascal Pichonnaz (Chair; ELI President; Professor, University of Fribourg). This was followed by a presentation of the Response, which is available here, by its author, Susanne Augenhofer (Professor, University of Innsbruck). She outlined ELI’s Response, highlighting advantages and disadvantages of the Commission’s various proposals, and concluded her presentation with additional considerations for the extension of the useful lifespan of goods.

Dirk Staudenmayer (Head of the Contract Law Unit, European Commission) thanked ELI for its very substantive and high-level contribution to the public consultation, adding that ‘We at the Commission are used to high standards from ELI’, and that the current Response is in line with those standards. Staudenmayer explained that among the challenges Europe is facing is the need to adapt to a greener and more digital world. In the former respect, Staudenmayer pointed to the paradigm shift in consumer law which not only seeks to ensure a high level of consumer protection and address internal market interests but also sustainable consumption. In greening contract law, the Commission is adopting a holistic approach including looking into the possible adaption to the Sale of Goods Directive (SGD) as reflected by the Consultation. Among other things, he spoke about possible ways in which consumers could be incentivised or nudged to repair products and when and added that an impact assessment that the Commission in conducting will provide further guidance.

Hans Micklitz (Professor, European University Institute) emphasised that it would be important that future EU legislation in the field includes an article that provides room for experimentalism, ie room for different initiatives at the grass-roots level within the Members States to experiment with these new ideas and concepts on the sustainable consumption of goods. Marta Santos Silva (Postdoctoral Researcher, Minho University) reflected on developments in the production and consumption of goods, pointing to the need to promote a servitisation model, the production of multifunctional goods, frugality and the buy-back and resell market for producers, among other things.

During the Q&A sessions, attendees discussed inter alia whether direct producer liability for defects falling under the scope of the SGD should be introduced, with ELI’s President pointing to ELI’s Response to the European Commission's Public Consultation on Civil Liability: Adapting Liability Rules to the Digital Age and Artificial Intelligence, and how consumer law could be reconciled with environmental law.

More information about the event is available in the leaflet here.

The recording of the webinar is available below.