Last week, the European Commission released an updated Commission agenda covering the period from 6 October to 23 December 2020. As many files were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the last quarter of the year will be quite busy for the Commission, with a wide range of digital initiatives expected to be launched. Here are the key developments to follow with regards to e-commerce:
Digital Services Act Package
The Commission has set a date for the publication of the Digital Services Act (DSA) package – 2 December 2020. The DSA will represent the Commission’s most ambitious plan to regulate digital services up to date. The package is expected to include a revision of the 2000 e-Commerce Directive (ECD), introduction of ex ante rules for ‘gatekeeper’ platforms and potential provisions for platform workers. From two leaked impact assessments on the e-Commerce Directive revision and on the ex ante rules for gatekeeper platforms, it appears likely that the Commission will propose asymmetric measures with enhanced obligations for very large platforms and a revised liability regime for all services in the internet stack combined with EU level governance and supervision. Furthermore, a combinations of blacklist, whitelist and greylist practices for gatekeeper platforms has been identified in 4 key services: online intermediation services, online search engines, operating systems, and cloud services. The European Parliament’s Plenary will still vote on the three own initiative reports on the DSA by the European Parliament’s JURI, LIBE and IMCO Committees during the Plenary session between 19 and 22 October 2020, which the Commission would also still have to take into consideration. Ecommerce Europe’s position paper on the Digital Services Act can be found here.
The Commission announced a publication date for the upcoming framework for data governance – tentatively set for 14 October 2020. The legislation will be a Regulation, and not as reported previously a Directive, hence leaving Member States with less space to manoeuvre in achieving the goals set by the Commission. The expected Regulation on Data Governance is part of the European Commission’s Data Strategy. The governance framework will set up nine ‘’data spaces’’, that will provide voluntary data sharing. Additionally, the legislative proposal on data sharing will address issues related to interoperability and so-called data altruism (voluntary donation of data for the public good).
New Consumer Agenda
The Commission is expected to publish its Communication on a New Consumer Agenda on 11 November 2020. The New Consumer Agenda initiative will cover the period until 2024 and will replace the current EU consumer policy strategy. As seen by the Commission’s public consultation on the topic, which closed on 6 October and to which Ecommerce Europe provided feedback, the New Consumer Agenda will be comprised of a Commission Communication on a New European Consumer Agenda, and three legislative proposals respectively on: empowering consumers in the green transition; a review of the Directive on consumer credit agreements for consumers (2008/48/EC); and a review of the General Product Safety Directive (2001/95/EC). The Communication, expected in November, will set out the main consumer policy priorities in the EU for the years to come. It will cover both issues emerging in the short term from the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on key EU consumer protection areas and the medium-long term priorities that should characterize a future EU consumer policy strategy. The Commission is looking specifically at the increasing use of online sales channels and the importance of ensuring safety for consumers. The other three legislative proposals are expected in 2021.
Other relevant initiatives
On 28 October, the Commission will publish its Proposal on Customs Single Window and Business Taxation for the 21st century. On 24 November, the Commission will release its Action plan on intellectual property. Finally, on 9 December, the Commission will present its Strategy for sustainable and smart mobility, followed by a Communication on the Commission’s cybersecurity strategy on 15 December.