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Ecommerce Europe wants same rules for online and offline sales

Ecommerce Europe, a pan-European association for online retailers, does not totally agree with the European Commission with regards to the Single Market Strategy it presented today. It welcomes the policy proposals the Commission has made, but the ecommerce association recommends not to create parallel legal frameworks. Ecommerce Europe wants the same rules for online and offline sales.

Ecommerce Europe shared its opinion today on its website, after the European Commission presented the Single Market Strategy. In this document [pdf], the Commission says how both the European Union and the Single Market (“one of Europe’s great achievements”) need to adapt to a changing environment. The European Commission that come into office last year has made increasing jobs, growth and investment its top priority and wants to pursue this by deepening the Single Market across sectors and policy areas.

As part of this all, the Commission unveiled a Digital Single Market Strategy to meet the challenges of the digital economy. It wants to improve access for consumers and businesses to online goods and services. Now, Ecommerce Europe says it welcomes these policy proposals. “. However, to ensure that the Single Market Strategy will create a European landscape where both the cross-border online and offline retail sectors can flourish, we recommend policy makers not to create parallel legal frameworks”, the association for the ecommerce sector in Europe says.

Same rules for online and offline sales
It goes on by saying how it strongly believes in full harmonization of legal frameworks for cross-border sales in Europe and asks for the same provisions for online and offline shops. “Because this would reduce confusion and increase legal certainty of businesses.” However, the Commission is focusing strongly on cross-border online sales, as there are still many barriers for online merchants who want to sell their products or services to customers from other countries. “But new proposals should not create two different legal regimes for the same product when it is sold online and/or offline”, the ecommerce association warns. “To ensure the Single Market Strategy is fit for the retail sector of the future, it is crucial that the principle of equal treatment for online and offline sales is at the core of its reasoning.”

Easy on the non-discrimination of prices
Ecommerce Europe does share the opinion of the Commission with regards to its focus on helping SMEs and startups to grow, but does not agree when it comes to price differentiation. The Commission wants to end unjustified discrimination and geo-blocking practices, so consumers have more access to online markets. But Ecommerce Europe thinks the EU regulators should be cautious in order to ensure that only unjustified practices will be forbidden. “Differentiation in price and conditions should be allowed if there is an objective reason at the basis of the pricing policy decision. It is therefore crucial that online merchants can rely on their right to economic freedom and freedom of entrepreneurial activity based upon grounded reasons. In any case, the new rules should not lead to an obligation for online retailers to sell everywhere in the European Union, as online companies can have many objective reasons for not doing so.”