With 54% of European internet users expected to shop online by 2006, the successful application of the Electronic Commerce Directive, adopted in 2000, will be increasingly vital to the EU economy, concludes a European Commission report published today. According to the report, the Directive, by applying to e-commerce the Internal Market principle of the freedom to provide services, is already "having a substantial and positive effect". The report emphasises that, given continuing technological innovations and the rapid growth of e-commerce, the Commission will need to keep a close eye on the application of the Directive. It will work with Member States to improve both information to businesses and citizens and the exchange of information among national and European authorities. The global nature of the Internet means that the Commission will also need to strengthen dialogue with international partners so that worldwide rules can be drawn up where necessary.