“We believe that we represent the silent majority of consumers, who don’t actually really care about the new type of packaging or different other things but who actually care more to have choice between different products, and be able to buy the cheap one, or the better one, depending on their purchasing power.”

A while back, I had the pleasure of skyping with my colleague Luca Bertoletti of the Consumer Choice Center (CCC). A multinational organisation fighting for consumer rights all over the world, the CCC works closely with media outlets and legislators, as well as running numerous campaigns. Luca told me a little about one such campaign, Brands Matter, which emphasises the importance of brand freedom.

“…for example, the Brands Matter working group that we are running in Brussels with MEPs from literally all of the parties, with the exclusion of very very far right and very very far left, so we have socialists, we have popular party with EPP, we have ECR, we have ALDE in the working group.”

“We promote the idea, actually, to have brand freedom, so that consumers can trust the brand and we don’t need the different type of labelling when it comes to wine, or when it comes to so-called ‘fast food’, or sugar, and we don’t actually want it because it’s much easier for, actually, criminals get, let’s say, fake product into the market if this product full of labelling because nobody […] will actually notice it.”

“And when you don’t allow a brand to be in your country, or when you don’t allow or you actually take away the brands from the consumers, you don’t hurt just industry but at the end of the day you hurt the consumers.”

Such unintended consequences as this, where a decision to ban or over-regulate makes the job easier for counterfeiters and black-marketeers, is just one example of the harmful effects to consumers caused by nannying, which the CCC strives to counter.

“We want to integrate more, we want to have a real single market and we want this to be be led actually by the consumer, because the consumer really knows what they need.”

This is all very interesting and exciting, and I could tell Luca was deeply passionate about the work he and the CCC carries out. But I had to ask – what separates the CCC from other consumer organisations?

“Well, first of all, we have seen that many of the NGOs in Brussels, but not only I would say all of them would but especially here in Brussels where I’m actually based, they are completely supported by public money.”

“So, we have some organisations that have more than 70% of their annual budget coming from the European Commission, which is actually a contradiction because they should be NGOs and they are actually paid by our governments to run campaigns.”

“We are completely privately funded, and we have a Chinese wall between our development strategy and the funds that we get […] so our sponsors and our donors cannot see what we actually publish or what we actually, the campaign that we are running until the moment that we actually publish.”

“We are actually pro-innovation and we actually want to have more choice and we want to have a free market.”

If you’d like to learn more about the Consumer Choice Center, it’s campaigns, aims, and ethics, go to their website at www.ConsumerChoiceCenter.org!


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Image: Consumer Choice Center

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About the Author

Richard Mason

Richard is ex editor-in-chief of Speak Freely and a masters student at the CEVRO Institute in Prague. He is also a Research Fellow at the Consumer Choice Center.

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