In anticipation of the European Commission presentation of the Digital Single Market Strategy on 6 May, Ecommerce Europe presents its new priority paper “Policy and market solutions to stimulate cross-border e-commerce in Europe”. This priority paper contains market and policy proposals including action points for policy makers, online merchants and e-commerce industry suppliers to collaborate in stimulating cross-border e-commerce.
Marlene ten Ham, Secretary General of Ecommerce Europe stated: “For merchants, there are still plenty of opportunities for growth by expanding into new European markets. The only way we can achieve further growth is to work together towards solutions that will facilitate companies including SMEs to enter the market to the benefit of both the industry and consumers. For policy makers this means supporting market initiatives and working towards harmonized legislation while abolishing superfluous regulation, and only considering new regulatory structures as and if necessary. We have to make sure that we don’t make things more complex for the online sector. Fundamental business freedoms should also apply in the digital world.”
Preliminary results show top three barriers for cross-border e-commerce
Ecommerce Europe stresses the importance of cross-border e-commerce for the European economy, as today only 15% of consumers shop online from another European country. Online merchants have significant room for economic gain if barriers to cross-border e-commerce are removed. According to the preliminary results of the Ecommerce Europe survey “Barriers to Growth”, the top three barriers faced daily by online shops when doing business abroad are issues related to legal frameworks, logistics, and taxation/VAT. Other difficult barriers to overcome when selling abroad prove to be related to (online) payments, competition issues language, client relationships and marketing.
Different privacy rules for instance result in large additional legal and IT costs, since the conflicting national implementation and enforcement of consumer laws across Member States creates legal uncertainty. A lack of information, a limited choice on the parcel delivery market and long delivery times are the most common issues for merchants and consumers related to logistics. Lastly, the implementation and accounting costs in order to manage the different VAT tariffs are enormous for merchants, especially for SMEs.
New set of proposals on how to stimulate cross-border e-commerce
In its new priority paper Ecommerce Europe provides concrete recommendations on how to achieve the completion of the European Digital Single Market for e-commerce. The e-commerce sector calls for full harmonization and one set of rules for consumer rights, privacy and security. The European Commission should see this as a top priority. One of the recommendations Ecommerce Europe already takes action upon is the launch of a European Trustmark scheme. Furthermore, the paper calls for transparency and innovation on the European parcel delivery market through several initiatives, including the Ecommerce Europe Online e-Logistics Platform which will be rolled out in early 2016. To tackle the third biggest barrier for online merchants – issues with cross-border taxation and VAT – Ecommerce Europe proposes a three-step action plan to come to a more uniform European landscape.
Ecommerce Europe looks forward to work with EU regulators, the industry and consumer associations on implementing its recommendations.