Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Pursuing the Digital Agenda - the Commission's e-Commerce Action Plan and Green Paper

As promised, here is some more news on the European Commission's initiatives for the digital market: Today, the Commission presented its Action Plan on e-commerce and other online services, aimed at building trust in the digital single market. The Action Plan forms part of the measures that were announced in the Digital Agenda and Single Market Act. The Commission expects that enhancing trust in the digital market will benefit different groups of stakeholders, including consumers (p 3):

'More e-commerce will generate tangible benefits for consumers such as lower prices, more choice and better quality of goods and services, thanks to cross-border trade and easier comparison of offers. The overall gain for consumers would be around EUR 204 billion (1.7% of European GDP) if e-commerce reached 15% of retail sales and if the obstacles to the Single Market were removed. Vulnerable people (the elderly, those with reduced mobility, those isolated in rural areas, those with low purchasing power) will particularly benefit and Europe will thus be better placed to meet the demographic challenges of today.'

The Action Plan is aimed at removing the following obstacles to the digital market (p 4):
'- the supply of legal, cross-border online services is still inadequate;
- there is not enough information for online service operators or protection for internet users;
- payment and delivery systems are still inadequate;
- there are too many cases of abuse and disputes that are difficult to settle;
- insufficient use is made of high-speed communication networks and hi-tech solutions.'

Accordingly, the Commission sets five priorities (p 5 ff):
'- develop the legal and cross-border offer of online products and services;
- improve operator information and consumer protection;
- reliable and efficient payment and delivery systems;
- combating abuse and resolving disputes more effectively;
- deploy high-speed networks and advanced technological solutions.'

More information is available in the Commission's press release (in French), in the Q&A section and on Vice-President Neelie Kroes' blog.

Together with the Action Plan, a Green Paper was presented on card, internet and mobile payments. The Green Paper initiates a consultation period, running till 11 April 2012, during which the Commission seeks to obtain the views of stakeholders on enhancing the possibilities to make online payments. The aim is to create 'a secure and transparent integrated payments environment throughout the EU'.

See also the press release and Q&A page.

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