(Read Time : 2 minutes)
The European Commission has been working to break down online barriers that prevent people from enjoying full access to all goods and services being offered by businesses in the EU. Ending unjustified cross-border barriers, facilitating cheaper cross-border parcel deliveries, protection of online customer rights and promoting cross border access to online content are some of the ways to achieving the Digital Single Market Strategy.
eCommerce is one of the cornerstones of the Digital Single Market strategy and the EU has taken several steps to make it easier and safer for European consumers to shop online throughout the EU. To realise the full potential of eCommerce, the EU has worked on:
- the revised Payment Services Directive and new rules on cross-border parcel delivery services that are already in force
- new rules to stop unjustified geoblocking which will be effective from 3 December 2018.
- revised consumer protection rules that will enter into force in 2020
- new VAT rules for online sales of goods and services that will enter into force in 2021
New rules to end unjustified geoblocking in the EU
Geoblocking prevents us from using the internet in one EU Member State and buying from a website based in another. This creates a big problem for consumers: for instance, in 2015, up to 63% of websites screened and prevented shoppers in one way or another from buying in a different country.
What is the Commission doing about it?
- New rules entered into force on 3 December 2018, across the European Union which will end online discrimination based on nationality or place of residence.
- The rules ensure that we no longer face unjustified barriers such as being re-routed back to a country-specific website or having to pay with a debit or credit card only from a certain country.
- Online sellers must treat all EU consumers equally regardless of where they choose to shop from.
Making cross-border parcel deliveries cheaper
Cross-border parcel delivery prices are on average 3 to 5 times higher than domestic delivery prices for all products. 62% of companies that wish to sell online identify high delivery costs as a problem. This is an important break in the development of cross border e-commerce.
New rules on online cross-border parcel delivery service have been in place since May 2018, aimed at guaranteeing price transparency and competition. This will make it easier to find the cheapest way of sending a parcel from one Member State to another.
Additional reading: Digital Single Market eCommerce Directive