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Market Studies

Market studies look for the reasons behind market malfunctioning for consumers and what policy initiatives can be taken. The aim is to encourage consumers to be more active in the market and assess how policy can help achieve this.


E-commerce can help integrate EU retail markets. Currently, business and consumers think nationally.

What is the Commission doing?

Communication: A coherent framework for building trust in the digital single market for e-commerce and online services

  • 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

Strategy to make cross-border e-commerce work better

  • Single set of rights for EU consumers . The proposal for the Consumer Rights Directive aims to replace the current patchwork of laws with an EU-wide set of rights.
  • Cross-border enforcement . Coordinated EU-led action to enforce consumer law and stamp out illegal practices in cross-border shopping.
  • Simplify cross-border rules for retailers , e.g. on value-added tax, recycling fees, copyright levies.

Study on e-commerce in goods

The study is examining the barriers to e-commerce in retail goods and estimating consumer benefits once e-commerce reaches its full potential.

A Commission Staff Working Document accompanying the E-commerce Communication contains the study's main findings and proposed areas for improvement. Information, redress and enforcement are amongst the areas where more can be done to boost e-commerce.

Staff Working Document on bringing the benefits from e-commerce to consumers

More findings

  • Increased choice. In a typical online "shopping trip" consumers shopping in their own country have at least twice as much choice when shopping online rather than offline. If they shop online across the EU they have uto 16 times more products to choose from.
  • Lower prices. Even when shopping online only in their country, consumers can make savings in 13 out of 15 products categories, compared with an offline shop.
  • Potential benefits from lower price and wider choice. Consumers can save about €11.7 billion a year (an amount equivalent to 0.12% of EU GDP) thanks to lower prices and wider choice which online shopping offers
  • Potential from increased e-commerce and a fully functioning internal market. If e-commerce were to grow to 15% of the total retail sector and Single Market barriers were eliminated, total consumer welfare gains would reach around €204 billion, an amount equivalent with 1.7% of EU GDP. This is four times higher compared to a situation where, with a similar share of Internet retailing, the fragmented national consumer markets of the 27 Member States would continue to exist. Two-thirds of consumer welfare gains are due to increased online choice, which is considerably larger across borders.

Communication on cross-border e-commerce

The Communication is the basis for the strategy.

More findings

  • Substantial savings for consumers. In 13 countries, consumers found an offer in another EU country at least 10% cheaper than the best domestic offer, all costs included.
  • Access to products unavailable at home . Shoppers in 13 EU countries could not find domestic online offers for at least 50% of the products they looked for, but found them in another EU country.
  • Most order fail. 61% online orders in another EU country failed because the trader refused to serve the consumer’s country or did not offer cross-border payment.