European businesses & consumers in joint call

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BEUC, representing 41 national consumer associations and Ecommerce Europe, representing more than 4,000 companies that sell products and services online to consumers, are jointly calling on MEPs to reject a controversial European contract law proposal when they vote in plenary, Wednesday, 25th.

The Common European Sales Law aims to provide an EU alternative to national contract laws, including key consumer rights such as to pre-purchase information, return, delivery and replacement of defective goods.

Labelled an “optional” law for traders, it would operate in parallel to existing mandatory EU consumer law. However, this would provoke different rules within the Single Market for the same products, lead to confusion for consumers and business, increased legal complexity and uncertainty, a reduction of consumer protection in some countries and higher costs for SMEs.

Wijnand Jongen, Member of the Board of Directors and Chair of the Executive Committee of Ecommerce Europe said:

“Where we seek harmonisation and simplicity, this legislation only adds to the patchwork of rules governing consumer rights and online sales. Further we wish to lessen administrative burdens and with the coming costs of implementing new, additional rules because this will raise the price the consumer pays.

“Online merchants need consumers’ trust to strongly increase cross-border sales, which is an ambition we share with the European Commission. A parallel system of EU legislation, even an optional one, just does not contribute to trust, and therefore we are opposed to the proposal.”

Monique Goyens, Director General of The European Consumer Organisation said:

“Analysis shows the actual reasons consumers do not buy across borders are practical – hesitations due to delivery concerns (49%), fear of fraud (62%) or availability of redress (59%). CESL would not solve any of these. It means direct, unhealthy competition with national laws, carefully built over decades. The EU Parliament now has a chance to reject this misguided initiative.

“Consumer laws should outright protect the consumer, not be a legal puzzle to choose the best protection. The drive to create a parallel EU law for cross-border ecommerce defies common sense. Supporters claim the target beneficiaries are Europe’s consumers and traders, but we reiterate in unison that it would merely result in greater legal complexity and confusion for both.”

Read the joint letter here.
BEUC Factsheet on CESL is here.

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