On 13 December, EU negotiators informally agreed in trialogue on the Regulation on Cross-border parcel delivery services. The legislative proposal was initially presented by the European Commission to address the struggles encountered by consumers and small businesses when buying online, by ensuring transparency and affordability of cross-border parcel delivery services. The provisional agreement reached by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission is supposed to make cross-border parcel delivery tariffs more transparent and to give regulators more powers to monitor the cross-border parcel delivery market.
It is important to stress that during the legislative process the scope of the proposal has been widened and “traders” have been included in the text informally agreed by EU legislators last week. Specifically, traders will have to provide consumers with clear information on prices charged for cross-border parcel delivery and returns, and customer complaints procedures (article 6a). According to the provisional text, the obligation seems in line with the Consumers Rights Directive (CRD), even though Ecommerce Europe is still assessing the potential consequences on online merchants and the relation of this provision with the CRD. Ecommerce Europe contacted all relevant policymakers to warn them about the potential negative effects on traders of the new article 6a introduced by the report of the TRAN Committee of the European Parliament. Nevertheless, article 6a will be part of the Regulation, even though in an improved version compared to the proposal in the TRAN Report.
Regarding the Regulation in general, to ensure more affordable and transparent prices, the new law firstly improves regulatory oversight, giving the National Regulatory Authorities the power to assess if tariffs for cross-border parcel delivery services are unreasonably high. It also ensures that parcel delivery providers are transparent about their prices and that traders provide consumers with clear information, in line with the Consumer Rights Directive.
As for the next steps, the provisional agreement reached on 13 December by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission still needs to be finally approved by the Parliament and the Council. It is expected to formally enter into force at the beginning of next year and it will be fully applicable in 2019. The Commission also announced it will launch a comprehensive study on the dynamic development of cross-border e-commerce through efficient parcel delivery in 2018.
It is worth mentioning that the Commission recognizes the role of industry-led initiatives to improve the quality of parcel delivery services in Europe, referring explicitly to the work Ecommerce Europe has done in setting up the Ecommerce Europe Trustmark. For more information, please read the memo of the European Commission.