Consumer rules for online purchases: a priority for Andrus Ansip


The European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market organized his second Twitter chat to gather input for his incoming digital strategy. Ansip answered many questions, including Ecommerce Europe’s question regarding obstacles to cross-border e-commerce. Ansip identified the “fragmentation of consumer regulation” as the first barrier he would break down to foster e-commerce across Europe.

Ecommerce Europe’s recommendations

Ecommerce Europe agrees with the Vice-President, by adding that consumer rules should not only be harmonized but also simplified. Online merchants already have to deal with difficult rules in their own countries and when they decide to sell cross-border, this could lead to unmanageable costs for the merchants, especially for smaller and medium ones (SMEs). To this purpose, Ecommerce Europe also advocates for a basis to solve disputes between retailers and consumers in a simple, fast and low cost way, together with a rapid revision of the Consumer Rights Directive.

Other e-commerce subjects touched

The chat was a great opportunity for online merchants to share with the Commission suggestions and problems they have to deal with on a daily basis. One of the hottest topic was the introduction of the new European VAT rules and the related Mini-One-Stop-Shop mechanism. Criticisms have been raised about the new rules, especially from SMEs. Ansip is assessing the need for further guidance for SMEs and startups with the Economic Affairs Commissioner Moscovici. Consumer discrimination across Europe was also discussed and Ansip declared he would like to have “a Digital Single Market where every European can buy in every online shop”. Online trust and the Data Protection Reform were also debated. Ansip hopes that the reform will be concluded before end 2015.

Next steps

The Vice-President will present the roadmap for the Digital Single Market strategy in May. After that, detailed proposals will follow one by one the next 2 years. Ecommerce Europe stays closely in contact with the European policy makers to ensure that the interests of the sector will be taken into account.

To have more information about Ecommerce Europe’s recommendations on the previous subjects, please click here for the Ecommerce Europe Priority Paper (2015).

To see the chat discussions in a nutshell, check out the Storify of #AskAnsip by clicking here.