On 23 February, the 2016 Dutch Presidency of the Council of the EU invited Ecommerce Europe’s Secretary General Marlene ten Ham to make a presentation on ‘Trends in European e-commerce’ at the “International conference on enforcement in a Europe without borders”. The conference, organized by the Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment at the Marine Etablissement Amsterdam (MEA) in Amsterdam, provided an international platform for exploring the importance of good legislation and good enforcement for economic and social life.
What does the European e-commerce sector need from regulators and enforcers?
In her presentation on trends in European e-commerce, Ecommerce Europe’s Secretary General informed attendants about the legislative and regulatory burdens the European e-commerce sector faces when trading cross-border. In her contribution to the panel on regulatory enforcement in the online trade, Miss Ten Ham focused on the need to unlock the potential of cross-border e-commerce by addressing online retailers’ top 3 barriers to expanding across European borders: Legal issues; Logistics and/or distribution; and taxation systems, VAT and/or customs.
Breaking down barriers and better enforcement of current rules
Offline, the European Union is the world’s largest economy. However, Europe continues to lag behind their Asian and North American counterparts when it comes to e-commerce. Miss ten Ham stressed that e-commerce does not necessarily bring new enforcement challenges, but that trading online required a modified view of the scale of enforcement required. In the digital economy, consumer empowerment has to remain the central focus of traders and enforcement bodies. Ecommerce Europe called on the European Institutions and national enforcement bodies to foster European trade and protect European traders and consumers from fraud. Miss Ten Ham argued that, in order to combat fraudulent traders in- and outside of the EU, European enforcement bodies had to increase their pan-European communication and adapt their traditional national enforcement powers to deal with online fraud.