Following the outbreak of the Coronavirus, many sectors have been forced to lay down work or switch to working from home. This affects e-commerce companies, but also people working in the Brussels’ policy arena. Many EU interest groups, normally based in Brussels, have been forced to change their operations to teleworking, and that includes also the work of the Ecommerce Europe secretariat.
With these changes come different challenges. Although physical meetings with EU legislators can be replaced by technological means, traditional lobbying activities on ongoing and upcoming policy initiatives have been slowed down, also because the current crisis makes it more complicated for EU trade associations to retrieve feedback from their members, who are now fully focused in reducing eventual damages caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. Moreover, it remains to be seen to which extent EU institutions will be able to smoothly continue their legislative activities. While much work is being done on organizing EU support for businesses in the current Coronavirus crisis, there is still unclarity about the continuation of the planned regulatory work. Although not official, we may expect delays and overhauls of new EU initiatives announced by the European Commission prior to the virus outbreak, including extension of deadlines/postponements of Commission’s public consultations on areas such as Artificial Intelligence and Data.