Consumer policy and consumer empowerment: comparing the historic development in Finland and Germany.

Wahlen, S.; Huttunen, K.


This article traces the trajectories of consumer policy in Finland and Germany in the light of a comparative history in order to reflect upon the notion of consumer empowerment in public policy. The principle developments of contemporary consumer policy can be traced back to the post-war political and economic integrations arising from the initial idea of free markets and individual freedom emphasized in classical liberalism. The article explores this development in Finland and Germany to the point of the establishment of a joint European Union (EU) consumer policy to reveal the notion of consumer empowerment. This approach creates an understanding of the peculiarities of consumer policy in EU member states despite the presence of a joint European policy area. Nowadays, both Finnish and German consumers find EU regulations excessive. It is important to acknowledge the influence of this historic development in order to understand what consumer empowerment meant in the past and thus to further develop policy action on a joint level.