European digital single market has opened additional opportunities for corporate activity in the Baltic States. Recently, the two EU legislative institutions, i.e. the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers reached an agreement on the online sales of goods and supply of digital content and services.




One of the biggest
benefits of the European digital single market is using PCs and being connected
to the net to buy various goods in any EU country without additional costs. For
businesses, it means being able to offer products, services and digital content
everywhere in the EU and having access to millions of potential
customers. 

For the last decade, the European Commission was active in streamlining
the EU e-commerce’s rule-book in order to break down online barriers that
prevent people from enjoying full access to all goods and services being
offered in the EU member states. These efforts were aimed at combating unjustified
cross-border barriers; facilitating cheaper cross-border parcel deliveries,
protection of online customer rights and promoting cross border access to
online content.

On 9 December 2015 the Commission adopted two proposals: one
on the supply
of digital content
 (e.g. streaming music) and one on the online
sale of goods
 (e.g. buying clothes online). The scope of the latter
proposal was extended
to offline sales
 in 2017. The two proposals aimed to tackle important
obstacles to cross-border e-commerce in the EU: legal fragmentation in the area
of consumer contract law, which made it difficult for SMEs to do business
cross-border and low consumer trust when buying online from another member state.
As the latest Consumer Conditions Scoreboard (2017) has shown, those
concerns are still present. 

See the Scoreboard at: https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/consumer-conditions-scoreboard-2017-edition_en.pdf.
 

 

E-trade and commerce is one of the cornerstones of the European
digital single market strategy; the EU institutions have taken several steps to
make it easier and safer for European consumers to shop online
throughout the EU.

On EU digital market see: https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en

The European Digital Single Market Strategy requires the European
Commission to make proposals regarding the online sales of goods and supply of
digital content and services; one of the latest had been in December 2015.

To explore the full potential of e-commerce, the EU institutions
made the following suggestions:- to revise payment services directive and new
rules on cross-border parcel delivery services  that are already in force;
– making new rules to stop unjustified geo-blocking  which is now in force
from 3 December 2018; – to revise consumer protection rules that will enter
into force in 2020; and – elaborate new VAT rules for online sales of goods and
services that will enter into force in 2021.

See more in: https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/new-eu-rules-e-commerce

 


Cross-border parcel delivery

It is evident that prices for cross-border parcel
delivery are on average 3 to 5 times higher than domestic delivery prices for
all products. Over 60% of companies that wish to sell online identify
high delivery costs as a main problem.

In order to facilitate the development of cross border
e-commerce, the Commission in 2012 launched a Green Paper consultation on the
cross-border delivery of parcels. The consultation was focused on cross-border
issues and e-commerce needs.

More in the issue in: https://ec.europa.eu/growth/sectors/postal-services/parcel-delivery_en

New rules on online cross-border parcel delivery services have
been in place since May 2018, aimed at guaranteeing price transparency and
competition. This will make it easier to find the cheapest way of sending a
parcel from one Member State to another.

On 25 May 2016 the Commission adopted a proposal for a regulation
on cross-border parcel delivery services, as part of a package of measures to
allow consumers and companies to buy and sell products and services online more
easily and confidently across the EU.

The proposal at:

https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:52016PC0285&from=EN

Consumers and small businesses complain that problems with
parcel delivery, in particular high delivery charges for cross-border services,
prevent them from selling or buying more across the EU. The aim of the proposal
is to increase price transparency and regulatory oversight of cross-border
parcel delivery services so that individual consumers and small e- retailers
can benefit from more affordable deliveries and convenient return options, even
to and from peripheral regions.

The Regulation will give national postal regulators the data
they need to monitor cross-border markets and check the affordability of
prices. It will also encourage competition by requiring transparent and
non-discriminatory third-party access to certain cross-border parcel delivery
services and infrastructure. The Commission will publish the public list prices
of universal service providers to increase peer competition and tariff
transparency.

See also: Factsheet
on how you can make the most out of e-Commerce in the EU as a consumer

in: https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/e-commerce-eu-how-you-can-make-most-out-it-consumer/
There is a web-page’s Latvian version. 


Regulation on geo-blocking

Consumers and businesses – especially SMEs – show an
increasing interest in shopping and selling across the EU. Online sales of
products are growing by 22% per year. However, frequently traders refused to
sell to customers from another EU Member State or to offer equally advantageous
prices in comparison with local clients.

The Regulation (EU) 2018/302 (“Geo-blocking
Regulation”) which entered into force on 3 December 2018, provides
consumers and businesses within the EU’s internal market with more
opportunities.

See: https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/geo-blocking-digital-single-market 

In particular, it addresses the problem of some customers
not being able to buy goods and services from traders located in a different EU
state, even at the same conditions as locals, only because of their
nationality, place of residence or place of establishment. In 2015, a
Commission survey found that only 37% of websites actually allowed cross-border
customers to reach the final step before completing the purchase by entering
payment details. 

 

European Commission’s
proposal from May 2016 on a regulation for combating an unjustified geo-blocking
online entered into force in December 2018. Thus, the Europeans will feel free
from their website’s blocking or re-routing them just because they, or their
credit card, have been registered in a “different country”. Since the end of
2018, EU citizens, wherever they are in the EU, are being able to access goods
and services online.

Geo-blocking refers to practices used for commercial
reasons, when online sellers either deny consumers access to a website based on
their location, or re-route them to a local store with different prices.

More on the 2018 regulation
see press release:

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_STATEMENT-18-6626_en.htm

 

The geo-blocking regulation is part of a
wider set of measures aimed at boosting e-commerce
 in the Single
Market, such as the revised Consumer
Protection Cooperation Regulation
, the new
rules on cross border parcel delivery services
, the new
rules for digital contracts
, and the new
VAT rules for electronic commerce
.   

More on the issue in: Factsheet
on how you can make the most out of e-commerce in the EU as a consumer
,
as well as in the Short
guide 
on the geo-blocking rules for online sellers.

 

The new rules will
enable consumers to have a wider choice of products at competitive prices and
consequently better deals. At the same time businesses will see their customer
base expand across borders and enjoy lower transaction and administrative
costs. The Regulation is also part of a wider EU effort to boost
e-commerce in the EU, which includes measures to better protect consumers
online, ensure more affordable cross-border parcel delivery and simplify VAT
rules to make it easier to buy and sell goods online.    

The Baltic States
and Latvian authorities shall ensure an effective implementation of these rules
and do all that is in their power so that effective enforcement of the geo-blocking
regulation. Besides, the EU states shall agree on harmonised rules for the sale
of digital goods and services and online purchases; these elements are crucial
for creating a well-functioning and competitive European digital single market.

In conjunction with the regulation to end unjustified
geo-blocking that entered into force in December 2018, the new agreement
on digital contract rules is the latest achievement of the European digital
single market strategy, delivering concrete benefits to citizens and
businesses. 

 

The European Commission’s authorities, including Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, and Věra Jourová, Commissioner
for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality welcomed the agreement. They
underlined that the regulation would allow European consumers to have the EU-wide, clear, up to date and harmonised rules on
the supply of digital content and on sales of goods. Besides, consumers across
the EU will be better protected: e.g. when digital content such as music or
software is defective, a consumer will be able to be compensated. They will
also have more time to prove that an item purchased was defective at the time
of purchase. And when a product is defective, the same compensation
possibilities, such as getting a discount or refund, will apply throughout the
EU. As for businesses, they will benefit from more legal certainty and fair
competition.  

In this way, the EU
institutions have found solutions that meet the challenges faced by consumers
and sellers in a highly digitalised and borderless environment. The regulation will
boost consumers and corporate confidence as an increased supply of both digital
content and goods across Europe will bring more choice at competitive prices to
consumers.

However, the EU
institutions need the same level of commitment on other EU priority files: the
proposed modernised copyright rules to make them fit for the digital world and
the proposed Regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications.

 


Next steps

EU states are in charge of the enforcement of the regulation
and need to put in place the necessary structures to ensure a smooth start to
its application. In particular, the EU states must designate bodies entrusted
with its enforcement and bodies which will provide practical assistance to
consumers.

In addition, the Baltic States have to set out effective,
proportionate and dissuasive measures applicable to infringements of the
Regulation. The Commission will conduct a first review of the Geo-blocking
Regulation by March 2020. This assessment will cover the possible extension of
the non-discrimination principle in accessing goods and services to non-audiovisual
electronically supplied services whose main feature is copyright protected
content, such as e-books, music, games and software. The Commission will also
carefully analyse whether in other sectors, such as services in the field of
transport and audio-visual services, any remaining unjustified restrictions
based on nationality, place of residence or place of establishment should be
eliminated.  

The EU’s digital market strategy is to ensure better access
for consumers and businesses to online goods and services across Europe.
E-commerce is growing, but its full potential still remains untapped both for
businesses and consumers in Europe.

The new agreement on digital contract rules is an additional
and essential initiative that makes the Digital Single Market a reality for
all, together with the end of roaming charges, the new rules on data
protection and the possibility for citizens to travel with their
online content.

 

More information in the following web-sites:

 – European Digital Single Market: Announcement by
President Juncker – video
;

 – Webpage
on the Digital Single Market
 (#DigitalSingleMarket);

 – A Digital
Single Market for Europe: Commission sets out 16 initiatives to make it happen
(6 May 2015)
,

General references at: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_STATEMENT-19-742_en.htm?locale=en;
LV’s version at:

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_STATEMENT-19-742_lv.htm






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