How do we put people at the centre of the conversation when high energy prices, rampant inflation, and lack of control over personal data undermine the foundations of our democracies and, more generally, our well-being? What is sustainability from a consumer perspective?
We explored these issues in this precious conversation with Monique Goyens, Director General of BEUC, the European Consumer Organisation. Monique’s association is the voice of consumers in Brussels, representing 43 independent national consumer associations in 32 European countries.
Over the years, Monique has managed to ensure that consumer interests are given weight in developing policies. Monique talks about energy efficiency, especially for the most vulnerable populations. She reports that consumer protection organisations are concerned about the products circulating on marketplaces, inflation, and the impact on households and small businesses. Monique reminds us that “the way information is brought to you can be very much unfair and manipulated” and that the EU must develop its own extremely high data protection standards. Indeed, she says, “If we are manipulated as consumers, we will also be manipulated as citizens”.
Monique also stresses that to empower consumers, politicians must make the most sustainable options easily accessible, attractive and affordable. This includes adapting the price signal and taxes.
Finally, she reminds us of the importance of intermediaries such as BEUC to provide feedback and information and creates confidence in consumer goods and services and politics.
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