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Friday, 27 January 2023

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.

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