Digital Agenda for Europe
A Europe 2020 Initiative

Action 13: Complementing the Consumer Rights Directive

Article
An optional contract law instrument should complement the Consumer Rights Directive to overcome the fragmentation of contract law, in particular as regards the online environment.
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What is the problem? Varying national contractual rules hamper the single market

Every EU Member State has its own contractual rules and often, the provisions in force differ from one country to another. This is a serious challenge to the smooth functioning of the internal market. For instance, businesses trading across borders may face high legal costs when their contracts are subject to foreign consumer law. Those costs are passed on to consumers who will eventually have to pay higher prices.

Why is EU action needed? Legal uncertainty strangling cross-border e-commerce

Divergent rules mean that some companies could decide not to enter foreign markets because of the high compliance costs. Businesses then lose out in market reach and consumers end up with less choice. The full potential of cross-border e-commerce therefore remains unfulfilled.

What has the Commission done so far and what are the next steps?

The Commission adopted a legislative proposal in October 2011 for a Common European Sales Law to complement the EU Consumer Rights Directive. The Common European Sales Law, which provides a set of rules the buyer and seller can agree to use, will help break down trade barriers and will benefit consumers by providing increased choice and a high level of protection. It will offer a single set of rules for cross-border contracts in all 27 EU countries.

 

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