The European Commission has announced its 2015 Work Programme, which outlines the first steps to be taken in its ambitious plans to foster jobs, growth and innovation during its current mandate. Among it are many measures to facilitate e-commerce that resonate with policy changes Ecommerce Europe has long been asking for, such as:
• Facilitating especially cross-border e-commerce;
• Swiftly concluding data protection negotiations;
• Simplifying online consumer legislation, including the Common European Sales Law proposal;
• Boosting investment for SMEs;
• Leaving room for innovation in regulatory landscape;
• Reviewing the rules for display of energy labels in online shops; and
• Advancing better tax harmonization.
E-commerce priority in the Digital Single Market
President Juncker has put the Digital Single Market as one of the keys to in fostering jobs, growth and innovation. The Commission is currently preparing a strategy to boost the Digital Single Market, in which facilitating cross-border e-commerce will be a priority.
Therefore in 2015 the Commission will aim to conclude the ongoing inter-institutional negotiations on the European data protection reform (DPR), so that rules for processing personal consumer data will be the same online merchants throughout Europe. Other actions planned for facilitating e-commerce are amongst others enhancing cyber-security, and mainstreaming digitization across policy areas”.
In line with Ecommerce Europe’s earlier recommendations, the new European Commission wants to modernize and simplify EU legislation for consumers making online and digital purchases. This is necessary, because online consumer rules are now covered by a plethora of legislation. As suggested by Ecommerce Europe, the Commission has decided to amend the draft regulation on the Common European Sales Law (CESL) in order “to fully unleash the potential of e-commerce in the digital single market”. The Commission is foreseeing to present its Digital Single Market (DSM) Package in March 2015.
Improved regulatory environment and boosting investment for SMEs
Part of the broader Internal Market Strategy of the new Commission in 2015 is boosting investment in SMEs and mid cap companies and improving the regulatory environment and to help companies to innovate. As a first step, the Commission will review the Energy Labelling Directive as to examine how it can change the legislation so that new rules for display of energy labels in online shops are not so intrusive for the merchants. Ecommerce Europe warmly welcomes this review, as it has warned the regulators this year that the current legislation is too prescriptive for online merchants to comply with in an easy way.
Taxation in the digital economy
In the domain of taxation, an action plan will set measures for a EU level system in which companies will be taxed on the basis of where the profit is made (destination principle) including in the digital economy. Ecommerce Europe has been advocating for better tax harmonization to lift the current burdens that web shops face in cross-border sales. Ecommerce Europe is therefore in talks with the European Commission to advise them on harmonization that is workable for both small and larger online merchants. The association is therefore pleased to see progress in this domain and hopes that the ongoing work on closing the tax gap as presented by President Juncker will go in the same direction.
Following the adoption of the Work Programme 2015, the Commission will work together with the European Parliament and the Council to identify a list of priority proposals which will be given priority to ensure a rapid adoption. Ecommerce Europe will closely monitor this process and report back to its members accordingly.
Ecommerce Europe’s Priorities
To learn about the recommendations Ecommerce Europe has made to the European Commission for facilitating cross-border e-commerce, please see the Ecommerce Europe Priority Paper (2014).