Work Programme 2018-2022

After expiry of the first term of the Advisory Council for Consumer Affairs (SVRV) at the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, Federal Minister Dr Katarina Barley appointed the members of the Advisory Council for the next four-year term on 1 December 2018. The new Advisory Council was convened on 10 December 2018 and elected Professor Kenning as chair and Professor Specht-Riemenschneider as deputy chair.

The Advisory Council for Consumer Affairs regards itself as an effective and visible driving force for scientifically sound consumer policy. In particular, the Council members consider it their task to ascertain the situation of consumers, to identify trends, topics of future relevance and undesirable developments, and to draw up recommendations for action.

The core task of the Advisory Council will be to draw up a comprehensive Report on the Situation of Consumers in Germany, which is to be presented for the first time for World Consumer Rights Day on 15 March 2021 (and then every two years on the same date). This main report is intended to address a variety of current consumer policy topics, as well as to provide an in-depth problem-oriented presentation and analysis of the situation of consumers in a number of key areas. By doing this, the Advisory Council hopes to lay the scientific and methodological foundations for gradually structuring the diverse and politically wide-ranging field of consumer policy and to provide policy makers with sound recommendations for action. So far, the following key areas have been selected: food, mobility, housing, leisure / tourism, finance / pension schemes, energy, health, education, digital world / IT security, and telecommunication. Work on the key areas of food and digital world / IT security has already begun in the form of expert discussions and the preparation of initial draft texts. The next step will be to conduct focus group interviews with various consumer groups in different regions.

At regular intervals the Advisory Council will also draw up position statements on individual topics  – starting with “Personalised Consumer Information” and “Corporate Digital Responsibility” (CDR), both of which are to be published in the first half of 2020. These will then be followed by a position statement on “Platform Regulation” around mid-2020. In the second half of the term, the Advisory Council plans to produce position statements on the topics “Social Inequality and Consumers” (autumn of 2021) and “Consumer Information Technology” (spring of 2022).

Specific current issues will be examined by the Advisory Council in its “Policy Briefs”. In the near future, this will include the topic “Insurance against Damage Caused by Natural Forces”.

Last but not least, the Advisory Council wants to make publicly visible contributions to discussions (e.g. by publishing opinion pieces) in order to help resolve the present problems in consumer policy.

The work programme is based on the individual members’ professional expertise as well as exchanges with other experts on particular subject areas. Furthermore, the Advisory Council plans to intensify inter-departmental cooperation. In addition to this, the Advisory Council’s budget line will be used to supplement and implement the work programme by contracting out certain projects, e.g. empirical or legal studies.

The Advisory Council has also been revisiting the subject of Consumer Scores – a topic it published a report on during its first term. For example, the Advisory Council has been invited to write a contribution (based on this report) for Austria’s “Consumer Policy Yearbook” (Konsumentenpolitisches Jahrbuch), which will be published in the fourth quarter of 2019. Furthermore, the report is currently being fully translated into English so that, if the need arises, it can be incorporated into policy-making at the EU level (including the German Council Presidency in 2020).