The European Commission has tabled a package of measures to allow consumers and companies to buy and sell products and services online more easily and confidently across the EU.
Delivering on its Digital Single Market and Single Market strategies, the European Commission has presented a three-pronged plan to boost eCommerce by tackling geoblocking, making cross-border parcel delivery more affordable and efficient and promoting customer trust through better protection and enforcement.
It will also strengthen the enforcement of consumers’ rights and guidance to clarify what qualifies as an unfair commercial practice in the digital world.
The legislation will ensure that consumers wishing to purchase products and services in another EU country will not be discriminated against regarding prices, sales or payment conditions - unless justified for reasons such as VAT.
The EC said the regulation will lead to greater price transparency and improving regulatory oversight.
Andrus Ansip, VP for the Digital Single Market, said: "All too often people are blocked from accessing the best offers when shopping online or decide not to buy cross-border because the delivery prices are too high or they are worried about how to claim their rights if something goes wrong.
"We want to solve the problems that are preventing consumers and businesses from fully enjoying the opportunities of buying and selling products and services online."
Günther H. Oettinger, commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, said: "The geoblocking initiative strikes the right balance between consumers' interest to be able to shop online without borders and providing businesses with sufficient legal certainty.
"I am confident that our approach, taking due account of specificities of certain sectors, will give the right boost to cross-border eCommerce in the EU."
Elżbieta Bieńkowska, commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, added: "Discrimination between EU consumers based on the objective to segment markets along national borders has no place in the Single Market.
"With clearer rules, better enforcement and more affordable cross-border parcel delivery, it will be easier for consumers and companies, especially SMEs, to make the most of the EU Single Market and the cross-border eCommerce."
Vera Jourová, commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, said: “Too many people in Europe are hesitant to purchase online because they don’t know their rights or think they are hard to enforce.
"I want consumers to buy online as confidently as they would offline. We will give teeth to consumer protection authorities to better enforce consumer rights online and crack down on fraudulent practices."
The package is an important step to bring consumer protection up to speed with the online world and to give legal certainty to traders, she concluded.
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