MEPs urge strategy to boost confidence in online shopping

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Parliament’s Internal Market Committee has called on the Commission to propose a strategy for improving consumer and business confidence in e-commerce as only 6% of EU consumers engage in cross-border online shopping.

On 8 April 2007, the European Parliament’s Committee on Internal Market adopted an own-initiative report calling for a new e-confidence initiative.

According to the report, despite the potential of online shopping, only 6% of EU consumers engage in cross-border e-commerce. “Overall, European consumer and business confidence in the digital environment is low and in certain aspects of e-commerce Europe is lagging behind the United States.”

The MEPs therefore call on the Commission to remedy the situation by relaunching and modernising the e-confidence initiative (2004). They also call on the EU executive to create a more attractive business environment for e-commerce, to strengthen consumers’ legal protection and the position of small business operators, to set voluntary standards and trustmarks for cross-border e-commerce, and to stop the fragmentation of the digital internal market.

To boost consumer confidence in digital environment and shopping online, the MEPs propose the creation of a grant programme for projects aimed at increasing consumer confidence, including educational and information campaigns to raise SMEs’ awareness of cross-border online sales. An early-warning system to combat online fraud is also among the proposed measures.

Launching a review of the EU consumer-protection legislation in February 2007. Consumer Affairs Commissioner Meglena Kuneva said that “at the moment, consumers are not getting a fair deal online, and complex rules are holding back the next generation of bright business ideas. The question is, can we afford to have 27 mini-online markets in Europe, denying consumers choice, opportunity and competitive prices?”

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