Ecommerce Europe participated in the two-day European Consumer Summit organized by the European Commission at the beginning of June. Representatives from the policy side, the industry sector and the consumer associations participated and contributed to shaping the future of European consumer policy.
CommissionerJourová: “Businesses should be able to sell confidently across borders”
European Commissioner for Justice and Consumers, Vĕra Jourová, opened the summit with a statement on the Digital Single Market, underlining that the finalization of the Data Protection reform and new initiatives in e-commerce contract rules will help to unleash the potential of cross-border online sales in Europe. The Commissioner believes that consumers should be able to buy goods and/or services abroad as easily as at home and that they should be well protected while doing so. At the same time, online merchants should be able to sell confidently abroad.
Ecommerce Europe welcomes the balanced approach adopted by the Commissioner towards e-commerce and totally agrees with Ms. Jourová that online shops should not have to bear additional costs caused by legal uncertainty and fragmentation across Europe. These costs currently hold back most of businesses from selling cross-border. This phenomenon is also confirmed by the results of Ecommerce Europe’s “Barriers to Growth” survey.
Privacy, e-Logistics and VAT as main barriers to cross-border e-commerce
Paul Edwick, CEO at Lucy Locket/Fairy Glam Ltd. (a company member of Ecommerce Europe) participated in the panel discussion on opportunities and challenges in European consumer policy. Mr. Edwick presented the issues that he as a CEO of a Small and Medium Sized Enterprise (SME) has to deal with on a daily basis when selling goods online abroad. In his opinion, there are three main areas that block his company from developping faster in Europe: differing privacy laws, trust in parcel delivery and differing VAT rates across EU.
Mr. Edwick explained that differing privacy laws create legal uncertainty for companies and often discourage them from selling abroad because of the fear of incurring fines from other member states’ authorities. Also, SMEs often do not have the resources to hire lawyers to deal with all privacy-related legislations in the EU. Concerning parcel delivery, SMEs can’t generally go to the major carrier companies as they tend to be more expensive. They therefore have to rely on post offices, which sometimes offer less services, such as track-and-trace. Finally, dealing with 28 different VAT regimes is a big administrative burden for smaller online shops. Ecommerce Europe’s survey “Barriers to Growth” confirms that these are the TOP-3 obstacles to the development of cross-border e-commerce within the EU.
Take a look at the video of the Europe Consumer Summit 2015.
Ecommerce Europe welcomes the fact that representatives from the European Commission stressed the need to involve traders in the discussions on consumer rights. Ecommerce Europe believes that representatives from the trade industry, consumer associations and policy makers need to work together in order to achieve a balanced European consumer policy able to foster cross-border online sales.
Ecommerce Europe stays in close touch with the key policy makers and participates in the stakeholder meetings organized by the Commission to ensure that the interests of the e-commerce sector are adequately represented. For more information on the initiatives of Ecommerce Europe, please read the Ecommerce Europe Priority Paper (2015).