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E-Commerce Directive

Introduction of the Directive

The Electronic Commerce Directive, adopted in 2000, sets up an Internal Market framework for electronic commerce, which provides legal certainty for business and consumers alike. It establishes harmonised rules on issues such as the transparency and information requirements for online service providers, commercial communications, electronic contracts and limitations of liability of intermediary service providers.

The proper functioning of the Internal Market in electronic commerce is ensured by the Internal Market clause, which means that information society services are, in principle, subject to the law of the Member State in which the service provider is established. In turn, the Member State in which the information society service is received cannot restrict incoming services.

In addition, the Directive enhances administrative cooperation between the Member States and the role of self-regulation.

Examples of services covered by the Directive include online information services (such as online newspapers), online selling of products and services (books, financial services and travel services), online advertising, professional services (lawyers, doctors, estate agents), entertainment services and basic intermediary services (access to the Internet and transmission and hosting of information). These services include also services provided free of charge to the recipient and funded, for example, by advertising or sponsorship.

Preparatory stage of the Directive

Commission welcomes final adoption of legal framework Directive
Common position of the Council with a view to the adoption of a Directive on electronic commerce
Commissioner Bolkestein welcomes political agreement on electronic commerce Directive
Amended proposal for a coherent legal framework for electronic commerce in the Single Market
Commission proposes legal framework
Commission presents framework for future action

First Report on the application of the Directive

Article 21 of Directive 2000/31/EC provides that in 2003 and thereafter every two years, the Commission shall submit to the European Parliament, the Council and the Economic and Social Committee a report on the application of the Directive accompanied, where necessary, by proposals for adapting it to legal, technical and economic developments in the field of information society services.

The First Report provides the first assessment of the transposition and application of the Directive and its impact. The Report is the first stage in a continuous process to ensure that Europe stays in the frontline of development in electronic commerce with a maximum level of legal certainty both for business and consumers.


In the context of the application of the E-commerce Directive, the Commission commissioned two studies respectively on its economic impact and on the application of the provisions on the liability of internet intermediaries.

The first study was carried out by Copenhagen Economics and finalised in September 2007. It analyses the first results of the economic impact in particular of the internal market clause of the E-commerce Directive, as well as of its provisions on the liability of internet intermediaries and on electronic contracts.

The second one, undertaken by the ULYS consortium, aimed at collecting information on the application of Section 4 of the Directive at European and national level.