European Institutions slowly continue the work on the Sales of Goods Directive

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More than one year after the presentation of Rapporteur Pascal Arimont’s draft report on the Sales of Goods Directive, the European Parliament IMCO Committee has officially further delayed the vote to 22 February 2018. Additionally, it is likely that the rejection of the EP JURI Committee Opinion on 24 January might affect the EP IMCO Committee’s schedule.

The Proposal was originally presented by the Commission on 9 December 2015, together with a proposal on the supply of digital content, with the objective to reach maximum harmonization in regulating online and distance sale of tangible goods. As of the beginning of the process, bearing in mind the need for overall consistency between the rules for online and offline sales, specifically with the rise of omnichannel shopping experiences, Ecommerce Europe and several other associations have been calling on policymakers to extend the scope of the Sales of Goods Proposal to cover aal B2C sales.

The European Parliament’s IMCO Committee is still considering the changes proposed by the Rapporteur Pascal Arimont in its Draft Report, and the series of amendment that have already been submitted. In the draft, the Rapporteur supports the extension of the scope to offline sales to create a common set of sales rules not only for online and other distance sale of goods (as the Commission originally proposed in 2015), but also for offline (face-to-face) sales.

Taking into account the EP IMCO’s Draft Report and amendments, the conclusion drawn from the REFIT Fitness Check of EU Consumer Law as well as the slow progress of the Council in negotiating the scope of the proposal, the Commission issued an amended proposal on 31 October 2017. The amended proposal would repeal the Consumer Sales Directive from 1999, and create a set of rules common to all forms of consumer sales.

Ecommerce Europe is strongly convinced that full harmonization of B2C EU sales law is the only way forward to foster cross-border e-commerce in Europe. In Ecommerce Europe’s view, it is essential to aligning as much as possible contract rules for distance and face-to-face sales to avoid consumers’ and merchants’ confusion when buying and selling cross-border and ensure legal certainty for all parties.

However, the full harmonization approach, which is strongly supported by Ecommerce Europe, seems since some policymakers remain convinced that fully harmonized rules will lower consumers’ rights in some cases. Moreover, Ecommerce Europe remains concerned about the apparent absence of notification obligations for consumers in case of a defective product. Moving forward, Ecommerce Europe suggests to introduce such a notification obligation because the trader who has to ‘repair’ the defective good has an interest in knowing as soon as possible that the product is non-conform. This obligation would also help the trader in acting swiftly to solve the problem of the consumer and repair or replace the non-conform product, and potentially avoid extra damages caused by a malfunctioning good.

Next steps

The EP IMCO Committee is still expected to vote on the Arimont Report on 22 February. This schedule may however be affected by the rejection of the Opinion in the EP JURI Committee during the vote on 24 January. After the vote and adoption in the IMCO Committee, trialogue negotiations will start when the Council adopts its General Approach, probably in the first half of/early 2018.

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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