A European initiative to improve the functioning of the single market for companies and consumers

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Over a year ago, a group of Member States gathered and started to discuss what the best strategy is to obtain a truly functioning Single Market. This group of States created the “Frontrunners initiative”, whose aim is to step up efforts to solve specific problems faced by businesses and consumers within the European internal market. Its results have been presented to the Competitiveness Council of the European Union earlier this month and e-commerce is one of the four main projects led by the initiative.

Recommendations for cross-border e-commerce

The aim of the cross-border e-commerce project is to identify potential barriers for an online shop deciding to expand in a different market than the home market and to increase consumer confidence in cross-border e-commerce. The analysis focused on the fact that “many of the rules governing the single market pre-date the digital era and in some cases inhibit or prevent cross-border online trade.” The group came out with 10 recommendations to foster the development of cross-border e-commerce.

Some of them concern VAT, especially VAT compliance, which should be less burdensome for small businesses. Online VAT procedures should also be simplified further, especially for smaller companies. Member States should also consider to improve their national Points of Single Contact (PSCs), which are online portals supposed to help businesses with rules and formalities. PSCs should include specific e-commerce advice, in order to help online shops to expand their business.

Support from all Member States needed

Ecommerce Europe welcomes and supports the Frontrunners Initiative in its efforts to unlock the potential of cross-border e-commerce and increasing consumer confidence in buying goods and/or services abroad. It is however essential that all national governments in the European Union join in the project, especially the Member States where easy access to e-commerce is not immediately evident. Ecommerce Europe therefore urges all national governments to endorse the conclusions of the Frontrunner Initiative.

For Ecommerce Europe’s recommendations on how to complete the Digital Single Market for the e-commerce sector,please download the priority paper here.

Next steps

The conclusions of the Frontrunner Initiative will be fed into the Digital Single Market strategy the European Commission is currently developing. Ecommerce Europe remains in close contact with all policy makers to ensure the voice of the e-commerce sector is heard in this.

To obtain the full Frontrunners report with all recommendations for boosting cross-border e-commerce, Ecommerce Europe’s members can contact Team Brussels via info@ecommerce-europe.eu.

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