European Commission supports single set of rules for both online and offline B2C sales 

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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.  

Next steps 

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. 

For more information about the position of Ecommerce Europe on consumer and contract law, please refer to our Manifesto (June 2017) available  here    or contact us at  info@ecommerce-europe.eu.   

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