Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Commission to make life easier for online businesses by streamlining consumer law

From The Register:
The European Commission will overhaul European contract law to make internet selling easier, more reliable and more efficient.

The commission has opened consultation on proposed changes that will affect eight EU Directives.

Recognising that e-commerce is hampered by a mass of conflicting national laws, the commission has proposed changes to Directives which it hopes will, when transferred into national laws, bring the law into line with technological developments.

'There is an urgent need for action, the world is moving so fast and Europe risks lagging behind', said Meglena Kuneva, the new EU Commissioner for Consumer Affairs, in her first press conference in Brussels. 'We need a root and branch review of consumer rules. At the moment, consumers are not getting a fair deal online, and complex rules are holding back the next generation of bright business ideas. We must find new solutions to new challenges.'

The commission believes that online businesses would benefit significantly if doubts about the legal implications of cross-border trading were removed.

'Consumer confidence is a key factor determining how and when consumers spend their money in different sectors of the economy,' said a Commission statement. 'All the evidence is that consumers are not yet comfortable enough in the digital and online world to seize its full potential. Only a tiny fraction – six per cent of EU consumers – are currently shopping online cross border.'

The commission will review all consumer contract law, which will involve a review of eight directives. They are: the Unfair Contract Terms Directive and the Directive on Sale of Consumer Goods and Guarantees; the Distance Selling Directive; the Doorstep Selling Directive; the Package Travel Directive; the Timeshare Directive; the Directive on Injunctions; and the Price Indication Directive.
Hopefully this will also review the areas of overlap between these directives and the E-Commerce Directive.

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