Ecommerce Europe discusses state of play of digital contract rules issues with European legislators


Ecommerce Europe participated and gave its contribution to the fourth European Commission stakeholder consultation group for consumer rules for online and digital purchases. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss digital contract rules for the sale of tangible goods, in particular issues related to the scope and the content of such potential new rules.

Scope of digital contract rules

During the discussion, the European Commission was interested in knowing the participants’ opinion about the scope of such rules and if a possible initiative should cover only cross-border or also domestic sales. In general, most of the participants prefer not to see different rules for cross-border and domestic sales. In particular, Ecommerce Europe also stressed the fact that with full harmonization of consumer rules for online and digital purchases, this question would be irrelevant.

Also concerning the scope, the general line was that a possible initiative should only cover Business-to-Consumers (B2C) contracts, and not Business-to-Business (B2B). Ecommerce Europe added that currently it is more important to solve B2C issues than B2B, and that only after having reached main achievements on B2C contracts there would be room for an expansion to B2B contracts as well.

More consultations needed!

The Commission is also seeking input on which criteria conformity should be established and what should be the relevant time for establishing it. The discussion also touched other topics such as the period for the reversal of the burden of proof, the guarantee and prescription periods, and unfair contract terms. Generally, there were diverging views amongst the participants and various questions from the Commission remained unanswered. This was due to the fact that the associations participating in the meeting need to further consult with their respective members before giving a final answer to the policy makers

Next steps

Ecommerce Europe is currently drafting written answers to all the questions raised by the European Commission and – after consulting with its members – the association will report to the European legislators accordingly. Ecommerce Europe stays constantly in contact with the European institutions and will participate to the future stakeholders’ meetings to ensure that the interests of the sector will be taken into account.