We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are Frances Lewis please sign in and let everyone know.

Dear Justice and Consumers,

Under the right of access to documents in the EU treaties, as developed in Regulation 1049/2001, I am requesting documents which contain the following information:

How many complaints have been registered against Cyprus for its systematic failure to enforce consumer rights?

How many complaints / issues were raised in the European Parliment by Euro MPs about the Cyprus Property Misselling scanda/ / absence of deeds / registration of covert Developer mortgages?

What was the outcome of complaints raised in the European Parliament? What action has the European Commission taken?

What was the outcome of the 2013 infringment procedures? What issues were specifically raised / addressed? What action was Cyprus forced to take to address these issues?

There is no ex offcio procedure for the examination of unfair terms in the Cyprus Courts. How many complaints about this has the European Commission received? What action has been taken? Why has this issue not been addressed? How many cases have proceeded through the Cyprus Courts without the contracts being properly assessed for unfair terms.

The EU Commission wrote a letter to Cyprus stating that its solicitors appear to be exempt from consumer protection legislation. I would like a copy of this letter and Cyprus' reply. It was given two months to respond in 2019. What is the outcome of this complaint? What action has been taken / changes made?

What specific steps has the EU Commission taken to address the failure of the Cyprus Authorities to implement EU law on Consumer Protection since 2013 and exactly what changes have been effected?

Yours faithfully, Frances Lewis

Dear Justice and Consumers,
As an EU institution, you had an obligation to answer within 15 working days. I've had no reply.

This is in line with the Unsatisfactory handling of the systematic abuse of consumer rights in Cyprus that has continued unchecked for many years (despite being flagged in the European Parliament since 2008) and personally flagging them the Head of the EU Consumer Protection Unit for the last two years.

I'd like an internal review please.

Yours faithfully,

F Lewis

Dear Justice and Consumers,

Thank you for your letter JUST/E2/PBE/Ares2020/4340693 emailed to me on 22.7.20. I am surprised it has not been posted here for all to see. I believe there are more than thirty thousand plus British buyers of deedless properties in Cyprus (and many thousands more of other nationalities, including Cypriots) that were subject to covert Developer mortgages who signed standard contracts containing unfair terms and would be interested in your replies which I do not find to be open or transparent.

Europe’s democracies rely on open and transparent decision-making as much as they rely on the rule of law and the respect of core values. Your answers to not inspire me with confidence that the European Commission is respecting its own rules. All member states must grant a "high level of consumer protection" This is alleged, regarded as a fundamental right (TFEU art 169(3) and the CFREU art 38). It is also written into the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus, although no one pays any heed to it (along with the right to have a response from a competent authority within 30 days of requesting one).

I have copied your letter here for all those consumers who are currently fighting for their rights in Cyprus and but are failing to be heard, before publicly commenting on it (again for the benefit of those who have suffered the same injustices as us.

I am sure that the tens of thousands of individuals who have been missold Cyprus Property will be interested to read your final statement:

"The alleged failure of the Cyprus authorities to correctly implement EU consumer protection law is being addressed in the framework of the ongoing infringement procedure 2013/2082. Only once the infringement procedure is terminated it is possible to identify the changes in the Cypriot legal system that this procedure has achieved".

Presumably, the EU would not have launched an investigation if the Cyprus authorities had "correctly implemented EU Consumer protection law" and certainly the investigation would not have lasted 7 years if there was nothing to investigate and nothing to correct. By anyone's standards, this is a very lengthy investigation. Is that because there is no much to correct and the Cyprus authorities are very slow to correct it or is it because the investigators are under-resourced, apathetic and / or incopentent and/or are paying no heed to the guarantee of "high consumer protection?" laid down in the various treaties and directives. Or is it that they just don't apply to Cyprus?

I also wonder how it is possible that secrecy can shroud a publicly funded seven-year long investigation into consumer abuse and how investigators have no accountability and no transparency until the investigation is closed - When will that be? A year from now, or ten years from now? Whose benefit is this investigation for - is it for the consumers which the European Union guarantees "a high level of protection" or is to support the interests of the Republic of Cyprus and its traders who are not providing a high level or protection and which the European Union has a significant amount of evidence (including all of mine)? If it is for the benefit of the consumers, why aren't the consumers being kept informed? Why are you allowing the abuses to continue for more than a decade?

I will take time to reflect on your letter and respond further. In the meantime, I respectfully suggest that you obtain all the evidence that I have sent to your colleague (Ms Rodriguez Galindo) and to verify what I have "alleged" is true. One would hope that you might have reviewed this evidence before sending such a reply and that the evidence I have sent would feed into your 7 year top secret investigation for which no one is being held accountable and the consumers (in whose name the investigation is taking place) have yet to benefit.

JUST/E2/PBE/Ares(2020) 4340693
By registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt:

Dear Ms Lewis,#

Subject: Your application for access to documents – Ref GestDem no. 2020/3538
I refer to your request for access to documents submitted on 31 May 2020 which has been registered on 10 June 2020 under reference number GestDem no. 2020/3538. With letter of 30 June 2020 (ref. Ares(2020)3433983), Ms Rodriguez Galindo informed you about the extension of the deadline by additional 15 working days until 22 July 2020. It seems that due to a technical problem in our document management system, that letter had not been communicated to you in time and you received it only on 15 July 2020. I would like to apologise for this oversight.

In your request, you ask the following:

1. How many complaints have been registered against Cyprus for its systematic failure to enforce consumer rights?
2. How many complaints / issues were raised in the European Parliament by Euro MPs about the Cyprus Property Misselling scandal / absence of deeds / registration of covert Developer mortgages?
3. What was the outcome of complaints raised in the European Parliament? What action has the European Commission taken?
4. What was the outcome of the 2013 infringement procedures? What issues were specifically raised / addressed? What action was Cyprus forced to take to address these issues?
5. There is no ex officio procedure for the examination of unfair terms in the Cyprus Courts. How many complaints about this has the European Commission received? What action has been taken? Why has this issue not been addressed? How many cases have proceeded through the Cyprus Courts without the contracts being properly assessed for unfair terms.
6. The EU Commission wrote a letter to Cyprus stating that its solicitors appear to be exempt from consumer protection legislation. I would like a copy of this letter and Cyprus' reply. It was given two months to respond in 2019. What is the outcome of this complaint? What action has been taken / changes made?
7. What specific steps has the EU Commission taken to address the failure of the Cyprus Authorities to implement EU law on Consumer Protection since 2013 and exactly what changes have been effected?
Only point 6 of your request is actually a request for access to documents addressed to the European Commission. This request concerns the additional letter of formal notice that the Commission addressed to the Cypriot authorities on 25 July 2019 and the Cypriot authorities’ reply of 25 September 2019, in the framework of infringement procedure 2013/2082 against Cyprus for failure to correctly apply and enforce Directive 2005/29/EC on unfair commercial practices and Directive 93/13/EEC on unfair terms in consumer contracts in the context of the purchase of immovable property in Cyprus.
I regret to inform you that the Commission cannot give you access to those documents.
As you know from your previous access to documents request of 28 February 2019 (GestDem no. 2019/1280), that was refused by the confirmatory decision of the Commission of 5 June 2019, signed by the Secretary-General Mr Martin Selmayr, Ref. Ares(2019)3626377, it results from the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union that all documents pertaining to an ongoing infringement procedure under Article 258 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union are covered by the general presumption of confidentiality1.
Against this background, public disclosure of the requested documents would not only negatively influence the dialogue between the European Commission and Cyprus, for which a climate of trust is essential. It would moreover have a negative effect on the extent to which the European Commission can conduct negotiations with Cyprus, free from external pressure, with the objective of finding an amicable resolution of the dispute.
Consequently, I consider that, in this instance, the use of the exception under Article 4(2), third indent of Regulation 1049/2001 on the grounds of protecting the purpose of the ongoing investigation of the alleged infringement is justified, and that access to the letters in question must be refused on that basis.
I do not consider that exceptionally the document should be disclosed due to an overriding public interest. The existence of such an overriding interest in disclosing the documents has not been substantiated in your request.
We have assessed whether partial access could be granted to the documents requested but consider that the documents are covered by the third indent of Article 4(2) of Regulation 1049/2001 as a whole.
In accordance with Article 7(2) of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001, you are entitled to make a confirmatory application requesting the Commission to review this position.
Such a confirmatory application should be addressed within 15 working days upon receipt of this letter to the Secretary-General of the Commission at the following address:
1 Judgment of 11 December 2001, Petrie and Others v European Commission, T-191/99, EU:T:2001:284, paragraph 68; Judgment of May 2017, Sweden and Spirlea v Commission, C-562/14 P, paragraph 37ff.
European Commission Secretariat-General Transparency, Document Management & Access to Documents (SG.C.1) BERL 7/076 B-1049 Bruxelles
or by email to: [email address]
To the other questions in your request, I would like to reply as follows:
1. Since 2010, 19 complaints against Cyprus for alleged breaches of different pieces of EU consumer protection rules have been registered in the Commission complaint register CHAP. One of them was closed as it was a duplication.
2. The European Commission does not have information about complaints or issues raised in the European Parliament by Members of the European Parliament. Such request for information should be addressed to the European Parliament.
3. A request for information about the outcome of complaints raised in the European Parliament should also be addressed to the European Parliament. The European Commission has opened infringement procedure 2013/2082 against Cyprus for failure to correctly apply and enforce Directive 2005/29/EC on unfair commercial practices and Directive 93/13/EEC on unfair terms in consumer contracts.
4. The infringement procedure 2013/2082 against Cyprus is still ongoing. As intermediate steps it has led, among other things, to the investigation by the Cypriot authorities of a large number of consumer complaints related to purchases of immovable property in Cyprus and the adoption of a series of administrative decisions by the Cypriot authorities against economic operators in that respect.
5. The complaints concerning alleged breaches by Cyprus of Directive 93/13/EEC on unfair terms in consumer contracts focussed on the enforcement of that Directive by the Cypriot governmental authorities. To the best of my colleagues’ knowledge, an alleged systematic failure by Cypriot courts to respect their obligation to assess unfair contract terms of their own motion (ex officio) has not been specifically raised by complainants and has therefore not been addressed in the infringement procedure against Cyprus.
I am aware that you have been raising the alleged breach of the principle of ex officio control of unfair contract terms in your case where you claim that the settlement agreement signed between you and a bank in order to end a long lasting dispute arising from a mortgage credit contract has not been checked by the court for unfair terms.
However, it cannot be concluded from the European Court of Justice’s case law on the principle of ex officio control that it would require a court to check of its own motion the terms of a settlement agreement intended to terminate a legal dispute. The ex officio duty to assess the potential unfairness of terms stems from Article 6(1) of Directive 93/13/EEC and aims to make sure that a judge does not apply contractual terms that, due to their unfairness, are not binding on the consumer and must be set aside. Situations, however, where the application of specific contract terms is not at stake before a court do not necessarily call for the application of an ex officio control.
6. Your request for access to documents – see reply above.
7. The alleged failure of the Cyprus authorities to correctly implement EU consumer protection law is being addressed in the framework of the ongoing infringement procedure
2013/2082. Only once the infringement procedure is terminated it is possible to identify the changes in the Cypriot legal system that this procedure has achieved.
Yours sincerely,
(e-signed by delegation by Alexandra JOUR-SCHROEDER)
Salla SAASTAMOINEN

Yours faithfully,

F Lewis

Dear Justice and Consumers,

Please pass this on to the person who reviews confirmatory applications.

I am filing the following confirmatory application with regards to my access to documents request 'Cyprus' systematic failure to enforce consumer rights'.

I am afraid I do not accept your statements that refusing documents in this matter is "in the public interest". There is a 7-year long investigation into the abuse of consumer rights which is being hidden from the consumers it is supposed to be protecting and at what cost? This is a publicly funded investigation and should be made public. By keeping the investigation secret, you are protecting only the wrong-doers rights (a small minority). These are the wrongdoers who have breached EU Law ; the reason the infringement proceedings were issued in the first place. It is nonsensical to suggest that the investigation can run on indefinitely and the investigators cannot be held accountable for their lack of progress for however long the investigation rumbles on. You have produced the number of complaints from 2010, but not prior to this date? Why have you chosen this arbitrary cut off date? What about all the complaints that proceed it? You mention that my request was previously refused, without stating that my previous request was relating to GDPR and my request to rectify false information about myself. This was refused without considering the balancing interest (i.e. my rights under GDPR). it was refused to protect the Republic of Cyprus and once again ignoring individual rights. I would respectfully suggest they are political decisions, and have little to do with the law. You say that the CCPS in Cyprus is making decisions but only after 2015, when it was prompted to do so by the European Commission. I don't believe it is collecting the fines it has levied. Where is the evidence that consumers themselves have benefited from these decisions or that anything has changed? Where can I find the consumer information which has been disseminated to protect consumers from the subjects repeatedly complained about? Where is the evidence that the courts are applying these decisions? You know that it is not assessing lawyer contracts / actions and neither is the Cyprus Bar Association. You know I have been waiting for more than 9 years to get a decision assessed for one lawyer and 2 years for a second lawyer. I have to pay the Cyprus Bar Association a fee for this service which has not been provided. I did not have to pay the CCPS. I believe this is discrimination to which the Republic of Cyprus and the European Commission is turning a blind eye. Discrimination is not allowed. The refusal to provide services is not allowed under EU Law. I paid a fee for a service to the Cyprus Bar Association who initially refused SEPA payment (not allowed). This was a consumer service and distant contract but the EU regulations were not followed. If the Cyprus Bar Association (an association of lawyers) is not willing (or compelled) to follow EU regulation and the Commission turns a blind eye, why should anyone else? You issued a letter of warning last year but it is all top secret . How is that in the public interest and how does that help consumers obtain what they are entitled to? You let off the Cyprus Bar Association in 2018 for unlawful fee fixing over many years. Tens of thousands of consumers have been overcharged, but they have no right of redress in Cyprus and no right of complaint. The lawyers get to keep the fees they have overcharged at the expense of the consumers who were overcharged - how does that work? How is that in the public interest? You tell me that no one has complained about the lack of an ex officio process for examining unfair contracts but I have. Your colleague has all the evidence of how I asked the court to examine my contracts and my request was subsequently ignored. Your colleague has the evidence that I asked the Attorney General of Cyprus for help and my requests were ignored. Your colleague has all the evidence that I asked the CCPS for help to get my decisions ratified in the Administrative court and guess what - my request was ignored. As for your statements about my case, I should refer you to the EU commission's own publication from 2019 (including significant case law) on the position regarding unfair terms in settlement arrangements. I would also refer you to look at the communication sent by your colleague in this regard which I also sent to the court (but it was ignored). I would also refer you to statements from several well-respected lawyers in Cyprus who have confirmed there is no ex officio process in Cyprus (also copied to your colleague and ignored). Finally, I would respectfully suggest that as part of a 7 year investigation it could be reasonably assumed that your investigators had gathered evidence in this regard (either to prove or disprove the point) and if they haven't it is because they are not interested (becuase they have been instructed to turn a blind eye) or not competent or perhaps they are just lazy because no one will hold them accountable in their completely opaque activities. I do not know the reasons but an investigation into the investigation should reveal all. The European Commission claims to be open, transparent, fair and accountable but I cannot see any of that evidenced in your response. There is no balancing of the rights of the consumers vis a vis the government of the Republic of Cyprus, its lawyers, its banks, its developers and the tens of thousands of consumers who are currently being dragged through the courts in several nations and who have been promised "a high level of consumer protection" but have not received it. I must ask you to conduct an internal review and revisit and substantiate the claims you have made. Consumer Protection is in the public interest. Guaranteeing "a high level of consumer protection" is in the public interest and is laid down in law. Access to justice and consumer protection are fundamental human rights and are therefore in the public interest. I cannot see how your replies tally with these guarantees or how telling consumers how to protect their interests in Cyprus and what common pitfalls to look out for in Cyprus (because of its laws and because of its culture) is contrary to the public interests. The whole point about the consumer protection legislation is to protect consumer interests and to stop them having to go through expensive court proceedings to get justice. It is not working and for that the EU that "guarantees a high level of consumer protection" must be held accountable in a fair and transparent way.

A full history of my request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.asktheeu.org/en/request/cypr... I will also send you a private letter.

Yours faithfully,

F Lewis

REMIS NICOLAS Carlos, Justice and Consumers

[1]Ares(2020)4166791 - RE: Internal review of access to documents request
- Cyprus' systematic failure to enforce consumer rights

Sent by REMIS NICOLAS Carlos (SG) <[email address]>. All
responses have to be sent to this email address.
Envoyé par REMIS NICOLAS Carlos (SG) <[email address]>.
Toutes les réponses doivent être effectuées à cette adresse électronique.

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your email dated 07/08/2020 by which you request, pursuant
to Regulation No 1049/2001 regarding public access to European Parliament,
Council and Commission documents, a review of the position taken by DG
JUST in reply to your initial application GESTDEM 2020/3538.

We hereby acknowledge receipt of your confirmatory application for access
to documents which was registered on 07/08/2020 (Ares(2020)4166752).

Your application will be handled within 15 working days (28/08/2020). In
case this time limit needs to be extended, you will be informed in due
course.

Please be informed that the answer to your confirmatory application is a
formal Commission decision that will be notified to you by express
delivery. Thank you for providing your contact phone number, so that the
external delivery service can contact you in case of absence.

Please note that the Commission will not use your phone number for any
other purpose than for informing the delivery service, and that it will
delete it immediately thereafter.

Yours faithfully,

Access to documents team (RC)

show quoted sections

ve_sg.accessdoc (SG), Justice and Consumers

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[5]Ares(2020)4502725 - Your confirmatory application under Regulation (EC)
No 1049/2001 – Gestdem 2020/3538

Sent by ve_sg.accessdoc (SG) <[email address]>. All responses have
to be sent to this email address.
Envoyé par ve_sg.accessdoc (SG) <[email address]>. Toutes les
réponses doivent être effectuées à cette adresse électronique.

Dear Ms Lewis,

 

I refer to your email of 7 August 2020, registered on the same day, by
which you submit confirmatory application in accordance with Article 7(2)
of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 regarding public access to European
Parliament, Council and Commission documents (‘Regulation 1049/2001’).

 

Your confirmatory application is currently being handled. Unfortunately,
we have not yet been able to gather all the elements needed to carry out a
full analysis of your requests and to take final decisions. Therefore, we
are not in a position to reply to your confirmatory requests within the
prescribed time limit which expired on 28 August 2020.

 

Consequently, we have to extend this period by another 15 working days in
accordance with Article 8(2) of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001. The new
deadline expires on 18 September 2020.

 

I regret this additional delay and sincerely apologise for any
inconvenience this may cause.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

María OLIVÁN AVILÉS
Head of Unit

[6]cid:image001.gif@01D13362.41D673C0

European Commission

Secretariat General

Unit C.1 (Transparency, Document Management and Access to Documents)

 

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Justice and Consumers

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Frances Lewis,

 

Please find attached the electronic version of Commission Decision C(2020)
6418 final as adopted by the European Commission on 15.9.2020.

 

Given the exceptional circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the
formal notification of the decision under Article 297 TFEU is being made
only in electronic form.

 

Please confirm receipt of the attached document by return e-mail.

 

Kind regards,

 

 

Giovanni VALASTRO

COMMISSION EUROPEENNE

Équipe certification/notification 

BERL 05/155

Tél: +32-2-29 61594

Email: [1][email address]

 

 

 

References

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ve_sg.accessdoc (SG), Justice and Consumers

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[5]Ares(2020)4889283 - 2nd holding letter, 2020/3538

Sent by ve_sg.accessdoc (SG) <[email address]>. All responses have
to be sent to this email address.
Envoyé par ve_sg.accessdoc (SG) <[email address]>. Toutes les
réponses doivent être effectuées à cette adresse électronique.

Dear Ms Lewis,

I refer to your email of 7 August 2020, registered on the same day, by
which you submit confirmatory applications in accordance with Article 7(2)
of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 regarding public access to European
Parliament, Council and Commission documents (‘Regulation 1049/2001’).

I also refer to our holding reply of 31 August 2020, by which the time
limit for replying to your confirmatory applications was extended by 15
working days, pursuant to Article 8(2) of Regulation 1049/2001. This
extended time limit expires on 18 September 2020.

The reply to your confirmatory application is ready and is awaiting the
signature of the Secretary-General. I can assure you that we are doing our
utmost to provide you with a final reply as soon as possible.

I regret this additional delay and sincerely apologise for any
inconvenience this may cause.

Yours sincerely,

 

María OLIVÁN AVILÉS
Head of Unit

[6]cid:image001.gif@01D13362.41D673C0

European Commission

Secretariat General

Unit C.1 (Transparency, Document Management and Access to Documents)

 

References

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2. file:///tmp/cid:editdata.mso
3. file:///tmp/~~themedata~~
4. file:///tmp/~~colorschememapping~~
5. https://webgate.ec.testa.eu/Ares/documen...

Justice and Consumers

Dear MR Frances Lewis,

Could you please confirm the receipt of the document sent on the 16.9.2020

Kind regards,

Giovanni VALASTRO

COMMISSION EUROPEENNE

Équipe certification/notification 

BERL 05/155

Tél: +32-2-29 61594

Email: [email address]

 

 

 

From: SG GREFFE CERTIFICATION
Sent: Wednesday, September 16, 2020 4:18 PM
To: '[FOI #8001 email]'
<[FOI #8001 email]>
Cc: BEVIERE Chantal (SG) ([email address])
<[email address]>
Subject: C(2020) 6418 final addressed to Frances Lewis

 

Dear Mr Frances Lewis,

 

Please find attached the electronic version of Commission Decision C(2020)
6418 final as adopted by the European Commission on 15.9.2020.

 

Given the exceptional circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the
formal notification of the decision under Article 297 TFEU is being made
only in electronic form.

 

Please confirm receipt of the attached document by return e-mail.

 

Kind regards,

 

 

Giovanni VALASTRO

COMMISSION EUROPEENNE

Équipe certification/notification 

BERL 05/155

Tél: +32-2-29 61594

Email: [1][email address]

 

 

 

References

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1. mailto:[email address]

We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are Frances Lewis please sign in and let everyone know.