With the European institutions coming back from their summer recess, legislative files on the EU’s tech and green agenda will start to move forward again. In line with the priorities outlined by the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the negotiations on the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Act as well as the Data Act are likely to be in the spotlight. Furthermore, new legislative proposals to adapt product safety and liability and EU consumer law to the digital era are due for publication soon. Sustainability is also expected to draw public attention in the second half of the year, as several new initiatives within the Circular Economy Package II are scheduled to be published by the Commission at the end of November.
In this article, Ecommerce Europe provides a snapshot of the status of the sector’s relevant files shaping the EU’s legislative agenda for the twin transitions in the next couple of months.
Product safety and liability
With regards to the horizontal bill expected to update the EU’s rulebook for product safety to make it fit for the digital environment, the General Product Safety Regulation (GPSR), EU Member States’ delegations endorsed the Council’s position on the file on 20 July. The approval opened the way for the start of trialogue negotiations with the European Parliament, which are scheduled to kick off on 15 September. The co-legislators and the Commission’s representatives are expected to engage on the obligations of online marketplaces and to address batch or identification numbers on products sold on their platform.
Meanwhile, preparatory work on the revision of the Product Liability Directive will be underway, with the adoption of a proposal slated for 28 September. On the same day, the Commission is expected to present its Artificial Intelligence (AI) Liability Directive, which, reportedly, is likely to come down to a concise piece of legislation focussing on spelling out casualty and the burden of proof. However, the adoption by the College of Commissioners might be delayed due to the legislators’ slow progress on the AI Act.
AI, data and privacy
Despite a bumpy start of the European Parliament’s IMCO/LIBE negotiations just before the summer break, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from the two co-leading Committees could break out of the deadlock at the end of August, when they circulated new compromise amendments. New submissions aimed to sort out dissent on how to distribute responsibility across the AI supply chains, as well as to tackle providers and users’ obligations in terms of risk assessment and mitigation for high-risk AI applications. The co-responsible Committees are scheduled to vote on the draft opinion on 26-27 October, while the EP’s plenary will hold its vote in November. For its part, the Council of the European Union is set to adopt its general approach on the text on 6 December.
Meanwhile, the discussions on the Data Act are slowly moving forward within the institutions, with the Council recently reaching a new partial compromise and the competences row in Parliament gradually clearing up. Public attention has been drawn to Article 27 of the text, which requires an international agreement as a condition to allow for international flows of EU non-personal data. The industry is alarmed that the provision, as it stands, might lead to similar shortfalls as those in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). With regards to such concerns, concrete follow-ups to the announcement of a new EU-US Transatlantic Data Privacy Framework, dating back to 25 March, should fall by the end of the year.
Digital fairness in EU consumer law
Following a first call for evidence on the fitness check of EU consumer law in the digital era, the Commission is expected to issue a public consultation on the topic in Q4 2022. The call for feedback will attempt to determine whether the current EU legislation for consumers’ protection is fit for purpose in the digital environment.
Sustainable Products and Packaging
EU lawmakers will be kept busy by the negotiations on the proposed Regulation on Ecodesign requirements for sustainable products in the upcoming months. As the window for publishing and adopting new legislation starts to close, another challenge will be to negotiate in parallel – and maintain coherence across legislations – the Circular Economy Package II due for publication on 30 November. Among those, the Proposal on Substantiating green claims and the Proposal on Reducing packaging waste, which were previously postponed multiple times.
Sustainable consumption and information
The second batch of sustainability files will also feature the long-awaited initiative on the Right to Repair, which aims to promote consumers’ use of repair and reuse options. Together with the proposal for a Directive on Empowering consumers in the green transition currently being discussed, these files will greatly impact existing EU consumer law across the continent.
Ecommerce Europe will keep a close eye on the state of these files throughout the next couple of months and will make sure that the interests of the European e-commerce sector will be represented during the process.