CONWEB Members

ConWeb Network has three member consumers’ organizations from South East Europe:

Center for Consumers Protection (CEZAP)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Consumers’ Organization of Macedonia (COM)

 

 

 

National Consumers Organization of Serbia (NOPS)

Consumers’ Organisation of Macedonia (COM)

The main objective of Consumers’ Organization of Macedonia (COM) is protection of consumers’ interests by advocating for availability of most essential goods and services, protection of products and processes harmful to the health of consumers, informing, advising and educating consumers about their rights and obligations. The vision of COM is a society in which citizens of the Republic of Macedonia fully exercise their consumer rights and practice responsible consumption. We are committed to the idea that we as consumers have the right to a better quality of life and responsibility not to jeopardize this right of future generations through our selection and use of products and services.

COM exists for consumer protection in the exercise of their fundamental rights, such as:

  • Availability of most essential goods and services;
  • Safe and high-quality products and services;
  • Accurate and timely information and education of consumers, due to correct selection of products and services;
  • Redress when consumer rights are violated; and
  • A healthy environment and sustainable consumption.

The purpose of COM is accomplished by providing advice, information and education of consumers in relation to their individual and collective consumer rights through representation of their interests in policy and legislation.

COM was established as a civic association in 1996 in Skopje, Macedonia. COM’s is an “umbrella” organization with Advisory Office in Skopje and it is comprised of consumer organizations from Bitola, Shtip, Tetovo, Ohrid and Kocani which have their own advisory bureaus.

COM’s expert commissions have been established on the basis of practical work, effective communication with experts in individual areas, the needs of citizens, bodies of state administration and local government in the area of consumers’ protection. Their existence and development is meant by appropriate programme directions in areas that have been established, to be a promoter of the improvement and understanding consumers’ rights and responsibilities.

Commissions’ program commitments constitute the essence of the professional component of the operational plan in the area of the working and development activities of COM. Within COM the following committees operate:

  • Legal;
  • Housing;
  • Nutrition;
  • Patients’ rights;
  • Energetics;

and the following Working groups for:

  • Education of children as consumers in preschool education; and
  • Educating students as consumers in primary education.

COM for 22 years actively works on raising public awareness and advocating the interests of consumers at national, regional and international levels through information, education and creation of appropriate legislation in the country. COM has already worked on projects that are closely related to the activities proposed in this proposal, such as: Strengthening the capacity of civil society to promote and protect consumers and their rights; Regional Model for a Smart Municipal Services Reporting System for the citizens (Regional model for smart reporting system of municipal services to citizens) covering region of the Western Balkans; Solar Water Heaters – promotion of solar energy; Advancing knowledge on consumer rights through teaching in primary schools – prepared functional Manual for teachers for the subject: “Skills of life”; Consumer friendly energy bills! – policy document used for public awareness; Raising consumer awareness on the need for proper labeling of certain groups of products; From farm to fork – safe food for the Macedonian consumer; Guide for services of public utilities of the City of Skopje; and others.

COM has implemented the Government consumer protection program and City of Skopje Consumer protection program in recent years as well as for the year of 2017. COM has leading the ConWeb – a consumers’ organisation for SEE since the central office is in the COM premises. The ConWeb Network is active and is supported by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Open Regional Fund for South East Europe – Legal Reform until October 2018.

National Consumers Organization of Serbia (NOPS)

The National Consumers Organization of Serbia (NOPS) is an umbrella consumer organisation with 14 members-both local and regional consumer organisations from all over the country. Established in 2004 as a non-governmental, non-political and not-for-profit organisation, its main aim is to make consumer protection effective in Serbia. NOPS promotes regulations that improve consumer protection; inputs in the formulation of national consumer policy and educates, informs and advises consumers as well as represents their interests. NOPS has also signed several important memorandums of cooperation with state institutions in order to improve consumer protection at the local/regional/national levels.

The work of NOPS is concentrated on the area of Republic of Serbia, but it is also present in various projects in the region and beyond. Its work is public in a manner that all activity reports are published in the media.

In the past, it has closely worked with European Policy Center (CEP) and Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM), as well as with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

Some projects that NOPS works on and has worked on in the past years:

  • „Strengthening Consumer Organisations for better Municipal Services in South-East Europe“ (NOPS is the partner organization and the lead organization is European Policy Centre – CEP).

The main goal of the project was to strengthen the capacities of consumer organisations in advocating the rights of consumers of municipal services in South East Europe and to establish a regional network of consumer organisations, considering that local public utilities still frequently neglect the aspect of consumer protection in their operation. The duration of the project is 13 months.

  • “Regional Model for a Smart Municipal Services Reporting System for the citizens” (where NOPS is the partner organization and the lead organization is Milieukontakt Macedonia).

The main goal of the project was to develop a regional model for Smart Municipal Services Reporting System for the citizens. The duration of the project is 8 months.

  • “Prevention of the Theft of Electrical Energy”.

The main goal of the project was to prevent the theft of electrical energy through continual and efficient education of the consumers, the buyers of electrical energy. The duration of the project was 7 months.

  • “Index of Consumer Satisfaction with Food Products Supply at the Market of Republic of Serbia”.

The main goal of the project was to investigate (via questionnaire) whether the consumers are satisfied with the manner in which the Serbian market was supplied with food products and whether they are satisfied with the quality and the prices of the same. The duration of the project was 3 months.

  • Know Your Consumer Rights (Consumer caravan).

The main goal of the project was to inform and educate the consumers throughout the Republic of Serbia about their rights and opportunities of exercising these rights. The duration of the project was 5 months.

Center for consumers protection (CEZAP)

Center for consumers protection (CEZAP) was founded in 1999 as non-governmental, nonprofit and non-political organization. Our principal goal is providing all forms of consumer protection in Montenegro according to inputs given by the UN Resolution.

Our long-term programmes are:

  • Advancement in legislation regarding consumers’ rights protection;
  • Education and information for consumers;
  • Connection and cooperation with International organizations; and
  • Supporting and helping consumers in resolving problems in the field of their rights.

CEZAP took part in the process of  passing a Consumers’ Protection Law, and afterwards supported the law implementation in the right way. Based on this law, the Government of the Republic of Montenegro adopted a National Programme of Consumers Protection (NPCP).

In the Arbitration Committee, which is a body for extrajudicial settlement of dispute founded after adopting Consumers’ Protection Law, half of the members in the body are representatives of the consumers organizations.

When it comes to their rights,  proper consumers education is one of the most important things. In a long process of providing right and useful  information, from the  beginning CEZAP has been working on this part through different programmes, campaigns, TV debates, seminars, press conferences, announcements in printed media etc.  CEZAP initiated  the first phase of the education project  which was supported by the Open Society Institute, where new subject called Consumer  became part of teaching in elementary and high schools. Another big project we also participated is the European Consumers Bridge, financed by EU. Principal goal was raising public awareness in specific areas of consumers rights, and providing better information about quality of products and market price through cooperation and discussions.

CEZAP is a member of Council of Consumers protection. The role of the Council is to propose certain measures and activities, participate in creating national programme and consider legislative drafting adopted in this field.

CEZAP is also part of the working group for preparation of negotiations in the EU accession process for the area of  EU acquis refering to negotiation of the Chapter 28-Consumers protection and health.

As a result of continuous work on negotiation chapter, on the 18th of the December 2014 a new chapter has been opened, whereby is evaluated that Montenegro reached appropriate level of compliance with EU acquis.

Among other things, CEZAP accomplished some activities related to law implementation and monitoring, with support of the Open Society Institute.

CEZAP  also cooperated with many European organizations who are working in the similar field. This kind of cooperation helped us a lot during our work on different projects. We were member of  Consumers International (CI) which has headquarter in London. Also we have great collaboration with regional organizations, especially ones from the ex-Yugoslav Republics.

CEZAP’s regular activities refer to :

  • Gathering consumers complaints;
  • Helping them solve their problem by giving them right advice;
  • Mediation between consumers and salesman;
  • Address complaint to the appropriate Inspection;
  • Informing media about activities of CEZAP;
  • Maintenance and updating our web site; and
  • Participation on seminars about consumers rights and consumers protection.

In this moment, we are part of litigation against Hypo Alpe Adria Bank in Primary Court.

Therefore, we are representing interests of 350 clients whose rights were denied by this Bank, in the well-known case called ,,Case of  Swiss franc‘’. What is important is the adoption of the “Law on Amendments to the Law for conversion of loans in Swiss francs (CHF) to Euro (EUR)”, on 5th of September 2016. These amendments are open to all citizens, who have loans from the factoring company Heta, or were paid off ahead of time, to convert their loans at an interest rate of 8.2% per year.

CEZAP in partnership with LCI (Lithuanian Consumer Institute), from February 2016 is implementing the project “Capacity building of Montenegrin consumer NGOs in the field of food safety and quality”, which is financially supported by the EU Delegation to Montenegro. The project aims to contribute to the development of a high level of consumer protection in the area of ​​food safety and quality in Montenegro, by empowering consumer organizations to participate actively in decision-making and by motivating and creating legal and financial environment for them.

Within this project during the past year were implemented a number of activities, all in order to raise awareness of food safety and quality, such as: organization of trainings, development of monitoring methodologies, preparing a Guideline on cooperation for consumer organizations with public institutions and business, also Consumer dispute resolution scheme in the field of food safety and quality and 4 informative specialized brochures.

CEZAP, as one of the project partners, together with Centre for Monitoring and Research (CEMI), Montenegrin LGBTQ association (Queer MNE) and the Network of NGOs for the Affirmation of European Integration Process, is implementing a project named “Improving capacities of CSOs’ and the system of consumer protection in MNE „PROTECT.ME“. The project is funded by the European Union. The project aims to build the capacity of civil society organizations in policy development and service delivery in relation to consumer rights. Also, the project aims to contribute to the process of European integration through strengthening of the civil sector to actively participate in social development policy-making through the implementation of the project. Direct target groups of this project are primarily CSOs (future members of the CP Network and other interested CSOs), Judical institutions (Courts, Prosecutors), relevant Regulatory agencies(EKIP- Agency for electronic communications and postal services Energy Regulatory Agency), relevant inspections, other national and local authorities (Government of Montenegro-Ministries of Economy and Justice, national Parliament, municipalities), as well as all interested citizens of Montenegro, especially most marginalized and vulnerable groups from Montenegro and abroad.

CEZAP is consistently working and will work on the representation of consumer interests at national, regional and international levels, raising public awareness through information and education of consumers, as well as promotion and implementation of appropriate legislation for the protection of consumers in Montenegro.

CEZAP vision is that all consumers should have the right to:

  • The availability of most basic goods and services;
  • Safe and high quality products and services;
  • True and timely information;
  • The right to compensation;
  • Education;
  • Healthy environment; and
  • The exercise of civil rights and social justice.

CEZAP operates and will continue to operate at the national level, which means that our target market is the territory of Montenegro.

Since CEZAP operates at the national level, it is aimed at a general target group, all citizens of Montenegro.

CEZAP continuously cooperate with the Ministry of Economy (Directorate for Development of National Brand and Consumer Protection) and has its representative in the Council for Consumer Protection, established within the Ministry. Also, we collaborate with the Directorate for Food Safety, Veterinary and Phytosanitary Affairs, through frequent communication regarding consumer complaints, in order to efficiently and effectively protect the rights of consumers, particularly in terms of safety and quality of food. Cooperation is also established with other bodies and institutions (eg. the Agency for Electronic Communications and others). In this way, through the partnership with the Ministry, Directorate and others dealing with consumer protection, in the implementation of projects for informing, educating and counseling consumers, seeks to increase public awareness and knowledge about the need for consumer protection in Montenegro.

The Network for protection of consumers’ rights was formed by signing Memorandum of Cooperation of 13 non-governmental organizations in Montenegro which will provide legal advices and free legal aid to those whose rights were violated.

Memorandum of Cooperation was signed by the following organizations: the Centre for Monitoring and Research of Public Policies (CeMI); Center for Consumers’ Protection of Montenegro (CEZAP); Queer Montenegro; Network for the Affirmation of European Integration Processes (MAEIP); Association of Youth with Disabilities of Montenegro; Young Roma; Association of Blind of Montenegro; Association of Parents; Educational, Cultural, Social and Informative Initiative (OKSI); NGO Spona; NGO Juventas; Montenegrin Female Lobby; and Centre for the Support of Local and Regional development.

The Memorandum was signed within the project “Improving capacities of CSOs and the system of consumer protection in Montenegro PROTECT.ME”, which is being implemented by CeMI in cooperation with CEZAP, Queer Montenegro and MAEIP, and is financed by the European Union. The project aims to build capacity of civil society organizations in the development of policies and receiving of services in the field of consumers’ rights.

The project activities will provide support for protection of consumers’ rights; increase consumers’ and business sector members’ awareness regarding their duties and responsibilities; but also enhance the participation of state and local government structures and citizens in creating suitable system for consumers’ protection.

First mobile application in Montenegro was developed within the project, aiming to increase business leaders’ and citizens’ awareness regarding their rights/responsibilities, with the possibility for consumers to report violation of their rights.

Main goal of this application is to measure level of respect of consumers’ rights in Montenegro, to determine which businesses, owners and/or workers are least aware or prone to violation of consumers’ rights, but also to raise awareness of employers and citizens regarding negative consequences of such behavior.