The internet and digital technologies are transforming our world. But existing barriers online mean citizens miss out on goods and services, internet companies and start-ups have their horizons limited, and businesses and governments cannot fully benefit from digital tools. It's time to make the EU's single market fit for the digital age – tearing down regulatory walls and moving from 28 national markets to a single one.
The Commission will propose:
Many people in Europe remain reticent about engaging in the range of online activities that could improve their daily lives. While ¾ of Europeans used the internet on a regular basis in 2014, only 15% shop online from another country. Moreover, only 7% of SMEs online sell cross-border. To help cross-border e-commerce to flourish, the Commission updated EU rules (the e-commerce directive), clarified contractual rights, and develop enforcement (cross border enforcement cooperation).
The Commission will review the Regulation on Consumer Protection Cooperation.
62% of companies that wish to sell online identify high delivery costs as a problem. High prices and inefficiencies of parcel delivery should not be an obstacle to cross-border online commerce. The Commission will assess action taken by industry and launch complementary measures to improve price transparency and enhance regulatory oversight of parcel delivery.
Geo-blocking is a practice used for commercial reasons by online sellers that result in the denial of access to websites in other states. Geo-blocking, hence, limits consumer's opportunities and choice, causing dissatisfaction and fragmentation of the Market. The Commission will make proposals to end unjustified geo-blocking (see geo-blocking and rights of recipients).
The Commission launched a Competition Sector Inquiry to identify potential competition concerns affecting European e-commerce markets.
Copyright drives creativity and the culture industry in Europe. Limits to cross-border access to copyright protected content is common. This often means that you cannot take your own content abroad, and that you cannot access many TV and radio programmes from other Member States.
Innovation and research too are hampered by the lack of a clear EU-wide legal framework. It is also necessary to ensure that the value generated by some of the new forms of online content distribution is fairly shared. The Commission has proposed modernised copyright rules to facilitate wider online availability of content across the EU, to modernise the framework of exceptions and limitations and to achieve a well-functioning copyright market place.
The Satellite and Cable Directive has been reviewed to assess whether and to what extent the legal mechanisms similar to the ones established by the Directive could be used in the envisaged EU copyright modernisation measures, in particular to facilitate the online cross-border distribution of television and radio programmes.
Companies trying to trade across borders face the obstacle and complexity of different VAT systems. The Commission will propose to cut this burden – for example with a single interaction point, a common threshold, and simpler, single audits.