In a letter made publicly available earlier this month, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Věra Jourová informed the Council of the Justice Ministers of the EU of the position of the Commission regarding the extension of the scope of the proposed Directive on contracts for the online and other distance sales of goods to also face-to-face sales. This position is aligned with the position of the European Parliament’s Rapporteur for this proposal, MEP Pascal Arimont, and strongly supported by Ecommerce Europe.
The extension of the scope will benefit both businesses and consumers
Before the summer, the European Commission provided additional data on the extension of the scope of the proposed Directive to face-to-face sales, something that Ecommerce Europe has supported since the beginning of the discussions. This additional information, mainly coming from the REFIT Fitness Check of EU Consumer Law carried on by the Commission, is completed by the European Parliament’s own impact assessment on the proposal. Both the REFIT and the Parliament’s impact assessment demonstrate the positive impact of such an extension on both consumers and traders. In the same letter, Commissioner Jourová is calling upon the European Parliament and the Justice Ministers to work towards the extension of the scope through amendments proposed by the two institutions. The Commission believes that this option would be more effective and less time consuming compared to the presentation of a modified proposal by the Commission.
Ecommerce Europe strongly support the Commission’s approach and is strongly convinced that full harmonization of B2C EU sales law is crucial to foster cross-border e-commerce in Europe. A minimum harmonization approach will only undermine the nature of the Digital Single Market and increase legal uncertainty for both traders and consumers. That is why Ecommerce Europe is strongly against different sets of rules according to the sales channel that is used. In a modern retail sector, merchants should be allowed to easily propose consumers all different sales channels (online, offline, multi/omnichannel) in an easy way. Therefore, aligning rules for face-to-face and distance sales is the logic solution to make it easier and less burdensome for both traders and consumers to comply.
The IMCO Committee of the European Parliament is expected to vote on the draft report of MEP Arimont on 11-12 October. From the Council’s side, the Estonian Presidency has started the discussions on some important issues of this proposal, namely its scope. At the informal meeting of beginning July, the Justice Ministers agreed that the rules on online and offline sales should be coherent, although they had some procedural questions on how to extend the scope. These questions were then answered by Commissioner Jourová in the letter mentioned above. The Council is therefore expected to further proceed on this dossier, also considering that the Justice Ministers already reached a general agreement on the digital content proposal in June. Ecommerce Europe will ensure that the voice of e-merchants will be taken in due consideration by policymakers.