On 15 March, Ecommerce Europe’s Secretary General, Luca Cassetti, spoke on behalf of the digital commerce sector at the 2021 edition of the European Consumer Summit, jointly organised by the European Commission and the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU. This year’s edition brought together more than 500 stakeholders from all EU Member States, including policymakers, enforcement authorities, consumer and other business organisations, to discuss the operational priorities for the year ahead in the context of the Commission’s New Consumer Agenda.
The focus of the high-level panel was consumer protection and international cooperation. In this context, Luca Cassetti stressed how COVID-19 has impacted the way consumers shop and accelerated the omnichannel transformation of many brick-and-mortar businesses, which had to close because of national lockdown measures. According to Ecommerce Europe, this acceleration towards a seamless commerce world, is set to accelerate, even after the pandemic.
Ecommerce Europe also highlighted the importance, and the contribution, of the e-commerce sector with regards to the twin digital and green transitions. Both consumers and businesses can play a role in making this a success. Consumers are an important force in the shift to a greener economy, according to the choices they make when purchasing products and services, but also more broadly when adopting responsible behaviours. Digital tools can also give consumers better access to complementary information they need across channels, before and after purchase, throughout the product’s lifecycle. From the business side, the digital commerce sector is also determined to make a positive contribution to this green transition, with many innovative industry solutions that are being employed and developed in European countries and abroad.
From the perspective of international cooperation, Ecommerce Europe also mentioned that one of the effects of the globalisation in e-commerce is the fact that it rapidly accelerated its cross-border nature and provided consumers with basically endless possibilities to buy products from all around the world. A challenge resulting from this development relates to the difficulties in preventing non-compliant goods from entering the EU market. Initiatives like international cooperation between the EU and other countries can help in this sense and should be promoted accordingly, together with other crucial actions such as empowering EU Countries’ Market Surveillance Authorities, make sure they coordinate also internationally, and ensure effective enforcement of EU legislation, a point that was also stressed by the European Justice Commissioner, Didier Reynders.
Commenting on product safety, Commissioner Reynders also stressed the importance of continuing the good cooperation with online platforms and hinted to the fact that Europe should do more, maybe create new rules and new obligations applicable to all platforms. He also mentioned that the Commission is working on consumer protection with the United Nations and other international organisations to develop a common approach, maybe even a new international standard. Reynders also made it clear that the cooperation with China on this issue is a priority for the European Commission.
Following the speeches of the other speakers, the Consumer Summit continued with dedicated workshops, in which Ecommerce Europe participated, on the topics of COVID-19, greening consumption, consumers in the digital transformation and enforcement of EU consumer legislation. The results of these workshops will feed the work of EU policymakers around the EU New Consumer Agenda.