E-commerce and the Digital Single Market: Top of the agenda for the Estonian Presidency

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Estonia took over the rotating Presidency of the Council of the Ministers (the Council) of the European Union on 1 July 2017. This will be the first time Estonia takes the helm since joining the EU bloc in 2004. The Estonian Presidency will have to deal with a wide range of dossiers linked to the Digital Single Market (DSM) Strategy of the European Commission. Out of the four main priorities of the Baltic nation, two are highly linked to digital policies and e-commerce: ‘An open and innovative European economy’ and ‘A digital Europe and the free movement of data’ will be at the centre of attention for the upcoming Presidency.

Estonia is aiming at further protecting and promoting the Single Market as well as facilitating the provision of services around Europe for a more open and innovative economy. This is entirely related to the progression of the Digital Single Market. One of the main priorities of the Baltic nation will be to specifically focus on developing cross-border e-commerce for the benefits of consumers, producers and businesses, while also providing modern and secure electronic communications with data protection being in the centre of attention.

Out of the 35 open legislative proposals from the European Commission on the DSM, Estonia is expecting to push forward a good amount of them during its Presidency. Ecommerce Europe is active on many of the proposals that are part of the Digital Single Market Strategy. More specifically, Estonia expressed its intention to work on the dossiers listed below, all very relevant for online merchants

The Proposal for a Directive on the supply of digital content is of major importance as the Presidency is focusing on taking into account all the characteristics of modern shopping as well as all the latest technological developments. Ecommerce Europe advocates for:

  • Full harmonization to create a real (Digital) Single Market for all B2C sales.
  • Simplification of consumer and contract rules to the benefit of e-merchants and consumers.
  • A clear distinction between goods and digital content in the context of the discussions around the scope of this proposal and embedded digital content in physical goods. For Ecommerce Europe, goods with embedded digital content should be treated as goods and not be subject to the provisions of this Directive.

On data protection and ePrivacy the Presidency is aiming at speeding up the legislative process, to try to meet the deadline of May 2018. In Ecommerce Europe view it is needed to:

  • Ensure consistency between the GDPR and the proposed Regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications, to avoid double legislation.
  • Read more here.

On the VAT reform, the Baltic country will try to reach an agreement in the Council on the main elements of the VAT e-commerce proposal. Ecommerce Europe strongly supports:

  • The extension of the MOSS to the distance sales of goods.
  • The removal of the current cross-border thresholds, which should be replaced by a pan-European one.
  • The removal of the VAT exemption for the import of small consignments.
  • Read more here.

On postal and delivery services, the ambition of Estonia is to conclude the Regulation on parcel delivery during its Presidency. In this area, Ecommerce Europe:

  • Supports and develops open IT-standards for labelling (a harmonized label for parcels). Read more here.
  • Does not support a Regulation on cross-border parcel delivery services that would impose unreasonable and costly burdens on online merchants, especially SMEs. Read more here.

On geo-blocking, the Presidency is aiming to finalising the approval of the regulation which is currently in trialogue negotiations. Ecommerce Europe’s latest positions on this dossier is available here and here.

Ecommerce Europe has been working together with all European stakeholders to remove remaining barriers in cross-border e-commerce and is looking forward to cooperating with the Estonian Presidency in the coming months.

For an overview of Ecommerce Europe’s recommendations on the Digital Single Market, please read our Manifesto on Milestones to achieve a #DigitalSingleMarket.

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