Have your say on 3 e-commerce related consultations launched by the European Commission!

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The European Commission has recently launched three new public consultations: one on VAT for cross-border e-commerce, one on geo-blocking, and one on the role of platforms, online intermediaries, data, cloud computing and the collaborative economy. The views expressed and information gathered from online merchants will help the European institutions assess the need for, or prepare initiatives as part of the Digital Single Market (DSM) Strategy and the upcoming Internal Market Strategy for Goods and Services. By contributing to the consultations, web shops will have the opportunity to help shaping future e-commerce policies and create a better landscape for cross-border e-commerce in Europe.

Public Consultation on Modernizing VAT for cross-border e-commerce

VAT has been identified as one of the top-3 barriers for online merchants when they want to sell cross-border, according to the Ecommerce Europe’s Survey “Barriers to Growth” (2015). The Commission believes, like Ecommerce Europe, that the complications of having to deal with many different national tax systems represent a real obstacle for companies trying to trade cross-border. Having carefully considered all VAT-related issues, the Commission announced that it will make legislative proposals in 2016 to reduce the administrative burden on businesses arising from different VAT regimes, and Ecommerce Europe strongly supports the Commission’s committment. To answer this public consultation, click here. Deadline: 18/12/2015.

Public Consultation on Geo-blocking

This consultation aims at gathering views on the different restrictions faced by consumers and businesses, such as online merchants, when they access or provide information, shop or sell cross-border in the EU. The European legislators expressed the intention in the DSM Strategy to make legislative proposals to tackle unjustified geo-blocking. Ecommerce Europe asks the EU regulators to be cautious when drafting the legislative proposals to ensure that only unjustified practices will be forbidden. In any case, the new rules should not lead to an obligation for online retailers to sell everywhere in the European Union, as online companies may have objective reasons for not doing so. To answer this public consultation, click here. Deadline: 12 weeks from 24/9/2015 (final day tbc).

Public Consultation on Regulatory environment for platforms

In its DSM Strategy, the European Commission committed to start an in-depth evaluation on the role of platforms, covering the social and economic role of online platforms, transparency (for instance in search results), terms of use, ratings and reviews, the use of information by platforms, the relation between platforms and their suppliers, the role of online intermediaries and some other topics. Considering the growing importance of such platforms in the e-commerce sector, it is essential that the EU institution will take the needs and interests of online merchants in due account during the whole process. To answer this public consultation, click here. Deadline: 12 weeks from 24/9/2015 (final day tbc). 

Next steps

Where appropriate, Ecommerce Europe will answer to the public consultations. Online merchants and all other related stakeholders are invited to send their contributions to the European Commission, and help the European legislators in understanding what the main priorities of the e-commerce sector are.

For more information about Ecommerce Europe’s priorities for a policy landscape that fosters e-commerce growth, please see the Ecommerce Europe Priority Paper (2015).

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