What is the problem? Online trustmarks have good, but limited impact

In some countries, there exist trustmarks and trustmark providers that inform consumers whether the website complies with a certain set of rules. The trustmarks can be certified according to a national certification scheme and the certification process can be supervised by the competent authority. In some cases the trustmarks are based on mutual agreements between the retailer and the trustmark provider without any official certification scheme. The aim of trustmarks is to guarantee the quality and security of the online transaction. Trustmarks can boost consumer confidence in cyberspace.

However, trustmark schemes are often unknown to consumers and especially unknown outside a consumer's home country. As a result, EU citizens can find it difficult to identify reputable e-merchants in other EU markets and are therefore reluctant to shop online from another country;

Why is EU action needed? To develop EU trustmarks for EU-wide trust

The Commission is exploring the usefulness and benefits of the EU-wide trustmark schemes to reassure consumers on the reliability of accredited traders.

The Commission will also encourage the establishment of pan-EU price-comparison websites. If certified by reliable trustmark, such sites would help consumers to make informed decisions, when using online retail services. Consumers would benefit from the knowledge that the price comparison site and the listed merchants are accredited and trustworthy. They would find out about shopping opportunities outside their home market and know which foreign sites to trust.

What has the Commission done so farand what are the next steps?

  • The Commission conducted a comparative study on trustmark schemes in EU Member States and discussed the issue at the Digital Agenda Assembly 2012..
  • The Commission will further elaborate different policy options for EU-wide trustmark schemes and the effectiveness of cooperation platforms in the governance of such trustmark systems.