On 28 May 2018, the Competitiveness Council held a public discussion on the new Platforms-to-Business Relations proposal and on the New Deal for Consumers package.
Regulation on promoting fairness and transparency for business users of online intermediation services (Platform-to-Business Regulation)
The Commission, represented by its Vice-President Andrus Ansip, stated that the goal of the P2B Regulation is to bring greater predictability and transparency to the online platform economy through a proportionate and targeted two-stage approach. The Commission’s main concern is that the increasing dependence of EU businesses and SMEs on online platforms opens up the possibility of harmful P2B trading practices against which no redress is currently available. Therefore, the aim is to ensure that online platforms remain efficient gateways to markets and do not become gatekeepers. A step by step approach has been proposed which includes the introduction of a clear set of rules on transparency and efficient dispute settlement with a significant scope for self-regulation. In addition, the proposal includes an observatory to analyze the practices of online platforms in great detail. The Commission believes that these carefully calibrated measures will immediately improve the position of EU traders and will not place unnecessary burdens on online platforms nor will they stifle innovation. Responding to the Commission’s proposal, Member States called for a balanced approach in regulating P2B relations.
New Deal for Consumers package
Justice Commissioner Věra Jourová explained that these proposals aim at achieving three main objectives:
- Improve compliance with EU consumer law by strengthening the mechanisms for individual and collective consumer redress.
- Modernize EU consumer law by enhancing transparency for contracts concluded on online marketplaces. The consumer rights directive is extended to the so-called “free digital services” where the consumer does not pay the price in money but provides personal data (ex. targeted marketing purposes).
- Remove unjustified burdens for businesses by removing the obligation for traders to accept the return of unduly used goods and to reimburse the consumer before receiving the goods back when the consumer makes use of the right of withdrawal from a purchase.
The goal is to reach an agreement on these reforms by May 2019. This implies that a general approach in the Council of the EU is needed by November 2018.