Consumer Empowerment in Europe: Challenges Met in Measuring It
Luca Pappalardo1, Michela Nardo2
1DG SANCO, European Commission, Brussels, Belgium; 2DG JRC - Institute for the Protection and Security of the Citizen, European Commission, Ispra, Italy

Consumer empowerment is a multidimensional concept encompassing skills, competences, awareness of consumer rights, and the ability to react when they are not respected. The 2007-2013 EU Consumer Strategy emphasises the importance of better understanding how consumers behave and sets as main objective to empower European consumers. However, until now, policies that affect consumers have relied on rather patchy empirical data as to their knowledge, capacities and skills. In order to fill this gap, the European Commission funded an EU wide survey on consumer empowerment, which was carried out in March 2010. More than 55 000 consumers in all the 27 Member States, together with Iceland and Norway, were interviewed. A wide range of issues was investigated: detriment suffered by consumers when encountering problems; the willingness to take action through courts or out-of-court dispute settlement bodies; the perceived confidence of consumers; consumers' skills - that is, the capacity to understand offers with a quantitative component (discount, interest rates), and to read logos and labels; awareness of consumer legislation; purchase behaviour.

The present paper aims at discussing the methodological challenges addressed in carrying out the survey, as well as the main outcomes of the analysis of a composite indicator constructed from the results of the survey and covering different aspects of consumer empowerment.

Keywords: Composite indicator; Consumer; Empowerment

Biography: Luca Pappalardo currently works at the DG Health and Consumer Protection European Commission as policy analyst. Previously, he worked for Eurostat as statistician, being responsible for the quarterly balance of payments of the EU, and as adviser to several National Statistical Institutes in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.