Dear Mrs. Kuneva I would like to welcome you to Barcelona on this special day. I feel honoured to celebrate the inauguration of the academic year with you, the Comissionat of the University of Barcelona and all the people participating today.
I would like to lead our public to your magisterial conference through a few considerations built on my personal and professional experience.
During my professional life, I have approached Consumer Affairs through different and complementary perspectives:
• Between year 2000 and year 2004, as the General Director for Consumer Affairs in the government of Catalonia I invested my energies mainly on the enforcement of European Regulation in the Market surveillance area and, on the other side, on Consumer Information.
I know this afternoon you will be going to visit the Catalan Agency of Consumer Affairs and I can assure you that the professionals you will meet are very well prepared and highly motivated.
As a citizen I feel proud of them.
• On the other hand, after 2004 I started my professional life as an international consultant in the Consumer affairs area and my main clients beside Public Administrations have been cluster associations and multinational enterprises
• And, of course, in the everyday life I am a consumer too!
Therefore, there are many conclusions I would like to share after these last 10 years spent working in this field but the issue I want to stress today is that Information and Training are absolutely necessary to improve the actual situation.
I do recognize and strongly approve what the European Commission has been doing in this field and I would like to mention some of the most recent and relevant initiatives:
1. The implementation of the Dolceta project financed by DG SANCO with the objective of supporting the empowerment of our consumers through a web portal meant to be a reference for all consumers and a source of information for teachers and teacher trainers facing consumer education.
2. The definition of best practices guidelines and training courses for the officers of public administration in order to improve their knowledge and expertise in this field and to support them in the coordination of their efforts and their tasks
3. The enhancement and improvement of Economic agents’ knowledge through the financing of the European Master in Consumer Affairs where we achieved to recruit the kind of students we were looking for.
The European legal framework in consumer affairs is complicated because the international market itself is complicated. Many companies are willing to follow the legal aspects drawn at the international level but many times it is difficult for them to know exactly the rules they have to follow.
Therefore, this master is meant to provide all the economic agents with an interesting tool to improve their knowledge and expertise in the consumer affairs area.
Thanks to the Commission we are creating a new profile in private companies and we are building a new essential professional figure.
She/he is what we have called the Consumer Manager.
This person will be prepared to integrate all the areas of a private company and she/he will interact with all the different departments (for example: Sells, Marketing, Innovation and design, Legal, an consumer survey departments) in order to respect and guarantee the right of consumers
Dear Commissioner, we also designed this master thinking about the future:
• We have followed the Bologna Process indications
• We have considered the mobility of the students and of the teachers
• We have foreseen internships in private companies, public departments and Consumer Organizations
• We offer the students a double degree diploma. (issued by two different universities)
• And – the most important for the future- we are ready to involve more universities in case they want to join our consortium since we have built this master according to a model that can be replicated easily in other national context.
Some time ago, we would have considered as an advanced country one that was economically advanced, creating richness…
During the last decade we have considered a country as advanced if it invested in the new technologies ….
But nowadays we consider and advanced country the one who is able to take care of all its citizens and consumers, guaranteeing their health and safety, protecting their rights.
Comissioner Kuneva, we are sincerely pleased to have you here with us to run an interesting lecture and I would like to close my intervention thanking you and your team for the job you have done so far awaiting from you and the European Commission the same energy and the same determination you had during these years.
Josep Tous, Barcelona,October 8, 2009 – European Master in Consumer Affairs.