On 22 and 23 February, Members of the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) Committee considered a draft report on the European Commission’s Single Market Strategy. The draft report by Rapporteur Lara Comi MEP is the European Parliament’s first response to the Commission’s October 2015 Strategy proposal and is expected to be discussed at the Plenary session of the European Parliament in May 2016.
Supporting VAT-reform and the Digital Single Market Strategy
Overall, the IMCO Committee’s draft report underlined how it welcomed the Commission’s Single Market Strategy proposal. For example, the report welcomed the Commission’s plans to address the difficulties faced by businesses operating cross-border due to differing national VAT regulations. However, the report called for the Commission to further assess VAT reform and the feasibility of a possible single European tax for the e-commerce sector.
The Rapporteur and Committee members furthermore welcomed the Commission’s proposed strategy on the Digital Single Market. The draft report on the Single Market Strategy by the IMCO Committee likewise places a specific emphasis on the sharing economy and geo-blocking. On the sharing economy, the report strongly acknowledges the speed of growth, strong links with the single market, and the need to support emerging business models. On geo-blocking, the report stressed that discrimination against consumers and entrepreneurs, both on- and offline, based on their nationality or place of residence, are unacceptable in the Single Market. Therefore, it calls on the Commission to urgently present legislative proposals tackling the practice of geo-blocking and to lay down effective criteria for the assessment of unjustified geo-blocking.
Ecommerce Europe’s position
Ecommerce Europe welcomes Mrs. Comi’s draft report on the European Commission’s Single Market Strategy. As the association representing 25.000+ companies selling products and/or services online to consumers in Europe, Ecommerce Europe supports the report’s call for a reform of EU VAT rules to address the difficulties faced by SMEs in cross-border online sales. On the practice of geo-blocking, Ecommerce Europe believes in the trader’s fundamental right to economic and contractual freedom and freedom of entrepreneurial activity based on reasonable grounds. This freedom also means that a business retains the right to decide not to sell or deliver to a consumer in another Member State or apply a different price for the same tangible good/service/digital content sold online.
Ecommerce Europe will be closely following the final stage of negotiations in order to assess potential impacts on the e-commerce sector. Ecommerce Europe is currently developing updated position papers on these topics and will publish them in the coming weeks.
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