ECC in Portugal
10 years of experience in Portugal
Portugal’s work in informing and assisting consumers about cross-border consumer issues dates back to 1992, when the consumer institute (CI) (now The Directorate General of Consumer - DGC), in collaboration with local councils in the north of the country, took part in an EU pilot-project for creating cross-border agencies for consumer information and support, called “AEIC - Agências Europeias de Informação ao Consumidor” (European Consumer Information Agencies), located near the borders between Member States. The Portuguese agency was created to operate in the region of Vale do Ave, with offices in Guimarães.
Later, at the end of the 1990s, when the European Commission went ahead with a new cross-border drive to create “Euro guichets”, with the same role and objectives, Portugal’s “Euro guichet” was inaugurated in 2000 and was installed on the Consumer Institute's premises. After a refurbishment in 2001, it came to have its own space, which was better suited to contact with the public, and its human resources were also increased.
Before the end of 2001, the European commission launched another cross-border cooperation network, the EEJ - net (the European Extra-Judicial Network), created in cooperation with judiciary organizations and tasked with promoting access to extrajudicial conflict resolution assistance for cross-border consumer issues. The EEJ - net was made up of “clearing houses” established in each Member State.
The national “clearing house” also began working in connection with the European Consumer Centre (ECC), as it was designated by Resolution of the Council of Ministers as the national contact point for EEJ - Net.
In 2004, the European commission held an external evaluation of the “Euro guichet” and “clearing house” networks and reformulated them, integrating the two into a single structure, benefiting from the accumulated experience. Its objectives were reformulated and the new network’s scope focused on cross-border issues. Thus the current European consumer centres network (ECC - Net) was formed, which has existed since 2005 and comprises the European Consumer Centre of Portugal.
At present, ECC Portugal is cofinanced by the Directorate General of Consumer - DGC, which, since 2007, has legal specific competence to secure the functioning Of the European Consumer Centre in Portugal.