Commission proposes new rules for better protection of consumers' rights in e-commerce

Today, the Commission is proposing to boost consumer and business trust in e-commerce by making it easier for authorities to enforce consumer rights and by clarifying the rules on unfair commercial practices.

With the revision of the Consumer Protection Cooperation Regulation, the Commission aims to strengthen consumer and business trust in cross-border e-commerce by ensuring a strong and equal enforcement of consumers' rights across the EU.

The proposed revision introduces measures that will ensure that national enforcement authorities have adequate means to tackle violations of consumers' rights in a cross-border context, including:

  • carrying out mystery shopping to check geographic discrimination or after-sales conditions (e.g. withdrawal rights);
  • ordering the immediate take-down of websites hosting scams;
  • requesting information from domain registrars and banks to detect the identity of the responsible trader.

In case of Union-wide problematic practices, the Commission will be able to launch a common procedure so that Member States authorities jointly assess the situation and eventually ask the businesses concerned to become compliant. This should be carried out through a negotiated procedure at the EU level that will enable administrations and businesses to save time and resources in a one stop shop approach.

The Commission is also proposing clarifications on the rules on unfair commercial practices to modernise guidance in light of new challenges presented by the digital world. For example, any online platforms qualified as "traders" must fully comply with EU consumer law.

The revised Guidance also incorporates two sets of self-regulatory principles agreed among stakeholders: to guide comparison tools towards better compliance and more transparency; and to support enforcement against misleading and unfounded environmental claims.

These measures are part of the broader set of new rules for improving cross-border e-commerce in EU. The E-commerce package proposed by the Commission today makes cross-border parcel delivery more transparent and affordable and it prevents unjustified geo-blocking.

Today, the Commission also published two studies that complement the proposals:

The European Commission carried out research on the existence of unjustified geo-blocking practices among 10.537 e-commerce websites in 143 country pairs and in 8 sectors of the most commonly purchased goods and services online. The study found that geo-blocking practices were identified in 63 % of all websites assessed, and only about 1 in 3 websites allow consumers to buy from another EU country. The results of the study have informed the Commission’s legislative proposal on geo-blocking.

The study gathered evidence to increase understanding of children's behaviour as potentially vulnerable consumers when confronted to unfair on-line marketing practices. An in-depth study of 25 of the most popular online games revealed that all advergames, all social media games and half of the games provided through popular application platforms contained embeddedor contextual advertisements.

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