Delayed agreement on EU Data Protection rules can be beneficial for cross-border e-commerce

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The Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union will not have enough elements to reach a common position on the Data Protection reform at the next meeting of the Justice Ministers. Therefore the e-commerce sector will have to wait some more time before the new EU-wide rules on processing and storing consumer data will come into force. However, the delay has given the Ministers time to discuss new proposals of which one especially can be beneficial to cross-border trade by online merchants.

Legal certainty for merchants in case of disputes highly needed
Ecommerce Europe has been asking the European policy makers for a pan-European authority which has the power to settle cross-border disputes about data processing between businesses and consumers. This will ensure that data protection rules are interpreted throughout Europe in the same manner, and will provide legal certainty for online merchants when selling cross-border.

One-stop-shop mechanism can facilitate cross-border e-commerce
European Justice Ministers seem to have heard our concerns, now that they take time to debate the “one-stop-shop” mechanism. The mechanism proposed by the Justice Ministers differs from the European Commission’s initial proposal. The European Commission wanted to give the final decision on the dispute to the authority of the state in which a business, such a web shop, is set up. By introducing the “one-stop-shop mechanism” Justice Ministers would rather allow for decisions made at a pan-European level, in line with Ecommerce Europe’s recommendations.

Next steps
The 4 December meeting was the last occasion for the Italian Presidency to reach a general agreement on this dossier before the end of its mandate. From January 2015 the Latvian Presidency of the Council will have to take over the unfinished dossier from the Italians. As soon as the Council agrees on the full text of the reform, it will have to enter in trialogue negotiations with the European Parliament and the European Commission, to bring their proposals together in a regulation.

Ecommerce Europe remains in continuous dialogue with the policy makers to ensure the interests of the e-commerce sector remain to be taken into account in the process. For an overview of our ideas for the fair, safe and transparent use and collection of data please see our position paper on Privacy & Transparency for Consumer Trust and Consumer Centrality(2014).

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