European legislators discuss how to dismantle barriers in cross-border e-commerce


Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have recently discussed how to tackle remaining barriers to cross-border online sales in Europe during the last meeting of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) Working Group on the Digital Single Market. The meeting focused on possible actions in the context of the consumer legislative framework for online purchases and on measures needed to tackle geo-blocking.

Commission’s proposals on the consumer legislative framework: full harmonization!

Ms. Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, participated in the meeting and explained what the Commission is planning to do to boost consumers’ trust in online sales. Concerning the consumer legislative framework, Ms. Jourová stressed that currently only minimum harmonization rules exist, which lead to legal uncertainty. The Commissioner declared that full harmonization is the only approach to foster consumers’ trust. Ecommerce Europe fully agrees with Ms. Jourová that full harmonization is essential to create a seamless landscape where cross-border e-commerce can flourish, not only for consumers but also for businesses.

No different rules for online and offline shopping!

All participants acknowledged the salience of the digital economy and the need for the European Union to improve the Single Market not only “offline” but also “online”. Ecommerce Europe understands and supports the Commission’s efforts to focus in particular on fostering cross-border online sales, considering the many barriers that still exist for online merchants. However, new proposals should not create two different legal regimes for the same product when it is sold online or offline. Therefore, Ecommerce Europe advocates for having same rules for offline and online sales.

Need for a more balanced approach towards geo-blocking

During the meeting, Commissioner Jourová stressed that geo-blocking is currently one of the most important issues that needs to be tackled. In particular, the Commission wants to make legislative proposals to end unjustified geo-blocking in order to make it possible for consumers to have more access to online markets. Ecommerce Europe asks the EU regulators to be cautious when drafting such legislative proposals in order to ensure that only unjustified practices will be forbidden. In any case, the new rules should not lead to an obligation for online retailers to sell everywhere in the European Union, as online companies can have objective reasons for not doing so.

Next steps

The next IMCO Working Group on the Digital Single Market is scheduled for 16 November. Ecommerce Europe will participate and always remains in close dialogue with the European policy makers to ensure the voice of the e-commerce sector is heard.

For more information about Ecommerce Europe’s priorities for a better policy landscape that fosters e-commerce growth, please see the Ecommerce Europe Priority Paper (2015) .