European Commission establishes new rules on energy labeling of products sold online


The European Commission crafted legislation that obliges online merchants to change the way they inform consumer about energy consumption and running cost of energy-related products. The new rules specify for many different types of products where the energy label should be placed, what the image of the label should look like and even which size and font it should have. Ecommerce Europe is very concerned about this, since the prescriptions are too detailed and thereby hamper merchants’ innovative capacity. Furthermore, the new information requirements hinder a seamless shopping experience.

The new obligations hamper innovation and a seamless shopping experience
The e-commerce sector is one of the few European industries that have experienced non-stop double-digit economic growth. This means that competition is fierce and that web shops continuously need to innovate in order to best tailor to their consumers’ needs. The new labelling obligations hamper competition for merchants on distinctive elements in e-commerce such as look and feel of the web interface and user-friendliness of the website. Furthermore, the obligations are not fit for further innovation in the market as they do not allow the consumer to easily gather the information on devices with a limited screen size, such as mobile phones. Also, the information requirements will significantly change the look and feel of the online shop on a small screen. The Regulation that would enter into force in January 2015 is too detailed and prescriptive, and there should be much more room for online merchants to make use of their innovative capacity.

Ecommerce Europe asks European Commission for extension deadline
All of the online merchants Ecommerce Europe has liaised with about the legislation have indicated that the deadline of 1 January 2015 is very difficult for them to adhere to. The late notification of the merchants combined with the complicated technical adjustments the new information requirements demand make compliance of the sector before the deadline almost impossible for SMEs and big companies alike. For SMEs it will be difficult because they often do not have in-house IT or design staff which could act on the new legislation swiftly, and for bigger companies it will be difficult because they will have to request the new labeling information from all the many different manufacturers they trade with. In exchanges with the Commission, Ecommerce Europe therefore asks for an extension of the compliance deadline until at least December 2015.

Ecommerce Europe and other stakeholders unite in asking for new industry consultation
Ecommerce Europe is concerned with the decision of the European Commission not to consult an industry association representing specifically online merchants, considering the impact this delegated Regulation has on the e-commerce sector. Several other important stakeholders, such as EDiMA, have notified us they were also not aware of the amendments. An industry consultation would lead to viable alternatives for information requirements which would benefit both consumers and merchants. Ecommerce Europe liaises with several big and small member companies on this issue to ensure we can provide the Commission with an effective overview of the technical, procedural, and other preparations necessary and an adequate solution to them to ensure that consumers are well-informed and can still enjoy a seamless shopping experience.