The EU is in corrective mode on eCommerce after it created a web of burdensome rules in order to inspire more consumer confidence, argues the author of a report examining European rules on online shopping.
Patrick van Eecke, a specialist lawyer who was asked by the European Commission to examine laws on cross-border eCommerce, has come to some damning conclusions on EU laws designed to streamline the way cross-border online shopping is done.
A recent EU survey on current conditions for both the consumption and sale of online goods across borders concluded Europeans are being turned off the idea by payment difficulties and a lack of trust in online shopping (EURACTIV 23/10/09).
60% of online purchases failed in the EU-backed test of 11,000 separate orders on cameras, CDs, books and clothes, the consumer survey showed.
Van Eecke presented some of his findings to industry representatives at a Brussels eCommerce summit on Tuesday (16 November).
Businesses wanting to comply with EU invoicing rules, for example, have to fulfil very specific requirements, one of which is an expensive and tricky electronic signature technology, says the lawyer.
eInvoicing can vary from country to country and gets trickier for cross-border transactions. In Germany, traders face 30 separate security requirements.
Van Eecke, who is also a professor at Antwerp University, criticised the EU’s eMoney scheme, which would allow businesses to have their own payment schemes. The scheme would allow customers to have an account with an airline, for example, which can be used to pay for services from other retailers.
But the scheme stumbled on a fundamental flaw this year when the original law defined distributors of eMoney exclusively as financial institutions which provide credit.
These definitions, which were revised on 16 September, would, for example, prevent airlines from selling flights and effectively turn them into banks, van Eecke argued.
Secondly, businesses complain that the payment technology is expensive.
Japan has long outdone the EU in this respect, with over 200 Japanese businesses having implemented eMoney schemes.
The success of eMoney in Japan, according to the lawyer, comes from the fact that the country monitored its progress before imposing regulations.