The European Commission have recently published the 2017 edition of the Consumer Conditions Scoreboard, which monitors the consumer environment across Europe through three dimensions: knowledge and trust; compliance and enforcement; complaints and dispute resolution. It also examines progress on the EU Digital Single Market from a consumer perspective.
Trust levels significantly increased and consumer rights continuously improving
The latest Scoreboard indicates that EU consumers have shown significantly increased trust in e-commerce, particularly in buying from other EU countries. In fact, compared to the previous year, levels of trust increased by 21.1 % for purchases from retailers located in another EU Member State. Also, in ten years, from 2007 to 2017, the share of consumers buying online has almost doubled from 30% in 2007 to 55% in 2017. Consumers have also become more and more aware of their rights when buying online. However, the scenery remains rather segmented as the northern and western countries are way more aware of their rights compared to their counterparts in eastern and southern Europe. The same variation across the EU can be seen in terms of retailers’ awareness of consumer rights.
Online retailers still face barriers in selling cross-border in the EU
The study shows that online merchants remain reluctant to sell to consumers based in other EU States. The Scoreboard indicates that online merchants are particularly concerned by risks of fraud, differences in tax regulations, differences in national contract and consumer laws. As a consequence, only 4 out of 10 online retailers are considering selling also cross-border in the coming year. That is one of the main reasons why Ecommerce Europe advocates for full harmonization of EU legal frameworks, specifically – but of course not limited to – the field of consumer and contract law (read our article on the topic here).
Ecommerce Europe strongly believes that full harmonization is the only way forward to foster cross-border e-commerce in Europe. A minimum harmonization approach will only undermine the nature of the Digital Single Market and increase legal uncertainty for both traders and consumers. Also, rules should be simplified as EU legislation tends to be too complicated to be understood by both consumers and online merchants, especially by SMEs.
To know more about the solutions of Ecommerce Europe to increase cross-border e-commerce, please read our Manifesto.
Relevant documents from the European Commission’s website: