New E-commerce-focused package must not lose sight of the link between off- and online

ERRT appreciates the EU Commission’s new “e-commerce package” as a further attempt to achieving a true European Single Market. European businesses and consumers should indeed, be able to sell and buy products and services online across the EU.

ERRT Director-General Susanne Czech stated: “We welcome all European initiatives tackling the barriers that still stand in the way of a Single Market in retail. The Digital Single Market is incomplete due to the absensce of a Single Market in retail. Europe’s leading retailers are pursuing multichannel strategies and e-commerce should make it easier to buy and sell goods across Europe.”

The proposed regulation aimed at ending the unjustified blocking of consumers’ access online can be beneficial but needs to respect retailers’ freedom to conduct business. Under no circumstances should retailers be obliged to sell across the whole EU, if they decide not to do so. The EU Commission must remain conscious of the many reasons why retailers apply different conditions and/or prices in the various member states. Susanne Czech adds: “Theoretically, the internet should act as an enabler of cross-border trade. However, in practice it merely exposes the barriers to a Single Market both to retailers and to consumers. It is important to bear in mind that the online and offline markets are complementary to one another. If we are to get a smoothly functioning Single Market, the Commission must address the remaining obstacles in both spheres.

ERRT further believes that more clarity is needed on the applicability of the differing consumer protection rules as well as on tax or payment related obligations stemming from diverging national laws.

ERRT looks forward to working with the EU Parliament and the Council on realizing an outcome that is beneficial to European retailers and to their customers.