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European harmonization for online shops

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Europe shops online

New European Parliament legislative resolution on consumer rights resolution

Europe shops online

New European Parliament legislative resolution on consumer rights resolution

After three years of work the European Parliament adopted a new legislative resolution on consumer rights in October 2011 . The provisions of the legislative must be implemented into national law by 2013. The new resolution on consumer rights will have a major impact on online trade and intends to simplify internet retailing to other European member states.
Currently only 7% of the consumers order goods from online shops in other European member states and only 10% of the companies providing internet sales deliver to their European neighbors. If customers try to order goods from a retailer in another European country, they often receive the information: “Sorry, we do not deliver into your country?. Consequently the figures of national internet sales rise rapidly, whereas the rise of cross-border-sales figures is hardly significant. So what is the problem? The free movement of goods was intended to be one of the major achievements of the European Union!
The Commission launched a study which analyzed the legal differences of all 27 member states based on the recent Directives on consumer rights and found out that the current minimum harmonization approach leads to a legal fragmentation. The fact that the EU regulatory framework is not perfectly coordinated and the fact that some of the rules in the Directives are outdated encourages the uncoordinated attempts by national regulators to address these issues brought a national isolation in particular for internet retailing.
The new legislative moves away from the minimum harmonization approach followed in the four existing Directives (i.e. member states may maintain or adopt stricter national rules than those laid down in the Directive) to embrace a full harmonization approach (i.e. member states cannot maintain or adopt provisions diverging from those laid down in the Directive).
In the end a full harmonization approach will simplify internet trade throughout Europe. The consumer will have to face the same rights and obligations in all member states, which will lead to a greater transparency in internet sales and opens wider range shopping offers for the consumer. For online merchants the new regulations provide the chance to offer products to a broader public without conflicting with national consumer rights regulations, but they also imply a new price competition with cheaper offers from abroad. However, the implementation of the new regulation into national laws as well as several loopholes in the new consumer rights Directive keep the issue interesting.
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