Back to work: EU developments in digital policy – 2020 outlook

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With the end of summer recess, the European Commission will start working on the EU legislative proposals planned for 2020, according to the  work program. With this blogpost, Ecommerce Europe guides you through some of the main upcoming developments in 2020 in the digital and sustainability areas.

Digital Services Act

Today 8 September is the deadline of the Commission’s public consultation on the new Digital Services Act (DSA) package, planned to be published by the end of the year. The DSA is targeted at updating EU rules and will likely include a revision – and probably some changes – of the “e-Commerce Directive”, a cornerstone legislation for the e-commerce sector, adopted back in 2000, which also includes rules for online platforms. Within the framework of the DSA package, the Commission plans to introduce ex-ante rules for ‘gatekeeper’ platforms to address the issue of the level playing field in European digital markets. Besides the ex-ante rules, the Commission also aims to tackle structural competition issues by introducing a new competition tool. The initiative is one of the measures aimed at making sure that competition policy and rules are fit for the modern economy. The Commission would like to address potential gaps in the current EU rules, on the basis of its experience with enforcing the EU competition rules in digital and other markets.

Ecommerce Europe’s reply to the DSA public consultation, which is accompanied by a position paper, will be sent and made publicly available soon, in order to provide EU stakeholders with the views of the European digital commerce sector on this complex but very important matter.

Artificial Intelligence

The Commission is also working on new rules for Artificial Intelligence, following the publication of its White Paper and the public consultation. The new rules are planned for Q1 of 2021. In a nutshell, the Commission is debating whether the AI sector specifically needs new horizontal legislation, adaptation of the existing safety and privacy legislation, or whether it is sufficiently covered by the current European legislative framework. The  European approach for trustworthy artificial intelligence will propose ethical requirements for AI, following the general strategy from the White Paper, stakeholder consultations and the   draft guidelines from the High-Level Expert Group on AI.

Ecommerce Europe believes that AI offers great opportunities for the sector. However, many concerns over AI applications are already addressed in existing EU legislation. Any changes to those laws should be accompanied by a differentiation and a clear definition of high-risk AI application so it does not hinder innovation.

European Data Strategy

In February, the Commission published a European Strategy for Data, which aims at creating a single market for data to ensure Europe’s global competitiveness and data sovereignty. The Commission will publish a legislative proposal called the Data Act in 2021. Part of it will be the creation of common European data spaces, which will allow for access to non-personalized data from different Member States, pooled across different key sectors. European privacy rules (GDPR) and competition law continue to be applied. Input on the file can be delivered through the upcoming public consultation. The adoption by the College of Commissioners is expected by the end of 2020.

Ecommerce Europe believes that the European Data framework should be future-proof, purpose-led, ease data sharing between businesses and make use of standardization without generating high reorganization costs for businesses.

Consumer Law and Sustainability

In terms of sustainability, the Commission is working on a “New Consumer Agenda” to provide a new EU strategic framework for consumer policy in some key priority areas. The New Consumer Agenda package includes the Communication on the New Consumer Agenda, Consumer empowerment in the green transition as well as the revisions of the General Product Safety Directive and the Consumer Credit Directive. The Commission is currently consulting with stakeholders on the abovementioned initiatives with a deadline for feedback 6 October. Ecommerce Europe is discussing its position on this important issue with its members and will reply to the public consultation accordingly.

Next steps 

Commission proposals on the EU legislative initiatives mentioned above are expected by the end 2020 or in the course of 2021. Ecommerce Europe will continue represent and defend the interests of the European digital commerce sector accordingly and looks forward to working with the EU institutions on these important files.

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