Blog by Wijnand Jongen, Managing Director of Thuiswinkel.org: Ecommerce Europe at work: VAT, geo-blocking, European Trustmark and other topics for cross border web merchants

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Exactly four years after founding Ecommerce Europe with 7 countries, the Ecommerce Europe family gathered again in Paris last week. It was heartwarming to have almost all of the 18 Ecommerce Europe National Associations together for our first Members Day, kindly hosted by our French association Fevad and Vente-privee.com. Members had the chance to see, hear and, of course, contribute to the hard work that Ecommerce Europe is doing through its working committees, which are the driving force of the association and deal with various topics, including data protection and privacy, consumer policies, online payments, logistics and others.

VAT, privacy, data and other issues for cross borer web merchants

Ecommerce Europe is working hard for the 25,000+ companies it represents to improve the online purchasing and selling experience for consumers and online merchants all over Europe. Ecommerce Europe’s members discussed many issues during the various meetings, such as how to increase consumers’ privacy and data protection without imposing unreasonable burdens on the industry, how to deal with VAT-related issues and Ecommerce Europe’s wish to harmonize VAT all over Europe to foster cross-border e-commerce.

Geo-blocking: the right to sell or not to sell

Geo-blocking was another hot topic that members discussed during the meetings, considering the great importance that the Dutch Presidency of the EU is attributing to it, the announcement of the Commission to come with a proposal for legislation in May and the potential profound impact on the e-commerce industry: it is crucial that online merchants can rely on their right to economic and contractual freedom and freedom of entrepreneurial activity based on reasonable grounds. This also means that an individual company may decide not to sell or deliver to a consumer in another Member State or apply a different price for the same tangible good/service/digital content sold online when delivered outside the area geographically covered by the merchants website. This should be qualified as differentiation, not as discrimination and in our view transparency about our geographical coverage can contribute to a better understanding for consumers.

European Trustmark

We talked about the roll-out of the Ecommerce Europe Trustmark. Ecommerce Europe will launch a new dedicated website in the next week or so. The Ecommerce Europe Trustmark is the only European Trustmark that is being supported by non-profit associations in close cooperation with consumer groups all over Europe, that provides for dedicated European consumer complaints handling, and that is available at no cost for Ecommerce Europe member companies. More than 10,000 companies can already carry the Trustmark beside the national association trustmark, strengthening trust for cross-border consumers. Furthermore, Ecommerce Europe’s member associations share knowledge to help each other set up national trustmark schemes, and with great results: this year we expect more national trustmark schemes to be rolled out for consumers in at least three European countries.

Last Friday, the Board of Directors of Ecommerce Europe met at the beautiful, new head office of Vente-Privée.com, the popular French online shop which is among the top 15 e-commerce companies in France. Long-time Ecommerce Europe supporter Xavier Court, co-founder of the French €2 billion turnover company, led us around the new premises of the popular flash-sales website, where over 3,000 people sell the best brands to consumers all over Europe on a daily basis. The Board of Directors of Ecommerce Europe met in the exact same head office where Ecommerce Europe was founded four years ago.

 

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