EU Commission sets out ecommerce action plan

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The EU have published “A coherent framework for building trust in the Digital Single Market for e-commerce and online services” which will shape the way we trade online in the years to come. This action plan is designed to remove some of the barriers to cross border trade and enable business to consumer sales to flourish across Europe.

The EU has the objective of doubling online sales and the share of the internet economy in European Union GDP (currently about 3.4%) by 2015 and this report lays the foundation for how they’re going to achieve this.

The way the EU works is very different to our National Government in the UK. Commissioners are appointed by member countries but are then supposed to operate completely independent of their country. Their role is to devise common policies and to run the day-to-day business of the European Union and are accountable to the European Parliament. They provide the political direction for Europe which is why the latest ecommerce report is a big deal. Is everyone keeping up?

eBay have a government relations team whose role it is to get involved with the EU Commission and the EU Parliament and educate commissioners on the issues relevant to online commerce. Amazon also have a team and on many issues eBay and Amazon’s interests are aligned in lobbying the EU bureaucrats.

I’ve read the report and so has Dan, and we’re in agreement that it’s far too turgid for mere bloggers like us to interpret with ease, so if you read it yourself (which we don’t recommend) and can paint the broad strokes of how it’ll affect your business then you’re very welcome to write a guest post for TameBay and enlighten us all! We’ll also send you a Toblerone as a prize. One of the big ones.

In the meantime thankfully the guys in eBay’s Government Relations team (who I have the greatest of respect for, as I couldn’t cope with working with politicians day in day out) appear to know what the report’s about and Stefan Krawczyk, Senior Director, eBay Europe had this to say:

We welcome the European Commission’s e-commerce communication, which reflects the Commission’s strong political will to do whatever it takes to take e-commerce in the EU to the next level. The Commission recognizes the great potential of e-commerce for the EU economy, but is also very lucid about the various barriers to its development. Boosting cross border trade, consumer trust and supporting SMEs in developing their online business are a focal points of the announced policy actions. These are also eBay’s priorities.

Intra-EU trade online is incredibly important for UK businesses, big and small. Germany, France and Ireland are the top three EU markets for eBay UK’s 180,000 strong community of online businesses. So we welcome any action by EU governments that will help support the growth of e-commerce, particularly the closer alignment of different consumer rights regimes, improvement of reliable delivery systems and increased investment in mobile broadband infrastructure.

As requested by eBay, the Commission will not reopen the e-Commerce Directive. Instead, it will work on clarification of the existing directive, rather than engaging in a lengthy legislative process, and take direct action in several areas. This matches eBay’s call for smart and flexible regulation of the internet and bodes well for the online businesses of hundreds of thousands of European entrepreneurs.

4 Responses

  1. I’ll pass on the chance of that Toblerone!

    IMO one of the biggest barriers to online trade is language.

    eBay itself chooses to default US listings to the UK site rather than those from, say Germany.

    Search engines are similarly constrained (by language).

  2. “Boosting cross border trade, consumer trust and supporting SMEs in developing their online business are a focal points of the announced policy actions. These are also eBay’s priorities”

    Supporting SMEs! Didn’t eBay stop doing that years ago whilst focusing on big retailers?

    When they canceled eBay university and educational specialists where they trying to support SMEs??

  3. I’ve given this more thought.

    The EU is focussed on the ‘single market’ ie inward looking.

    To improve the current outlook it might be better served to be outward looking ie to strive to sell more to non EU countries!


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