The European Parliament and the Council reached a provisional agreement today on the European Commission’s proposals of December 2015 regarding the online sales of goods and supply of digital content and services. In conjunction with the regulation to end unjustified geoblocking that entered into force in December 2018, the new agreement on digital contract rules is the latest achievement of the Digital Single Market Strategy, delivering concrete benefits to citizens and businesses.

Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, and Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equalitywelcomed the agreement with the following statement:

“As a consumer, one of the biggest benefits of the EU’s Digital Single Market is that you are just one mouse click away from buying 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. 

This can only work well if we have EU-wide, clear, up to date and harmonised rules. With the agreement on our proposals for new rules on the supply of digital content and services, and on sales of goods, we are taking another step in that direction. 

Consumers across the EU will be better protected. For instance, when digital content such as music or software is defective, a consumer will now 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.  

We want to thank the European Parliament and the Council for their commitment to finding solutions that meetthe challenges faced by consumers and sellers in a highly digitalised and borderless environment. Today’s agreement will boost consumers’ confidence and therefore also business. Ultimately, an increased supply of both digital content and goods across Europe will bring more choice at competitive prices to consumers, and this is what the Digital Single Market is all about. We hope to see the same level of commitment from the European Parliament and the Council on two other EU priority files, namely the proposed modernised copyright rules to make them fit for the digital world and the proposed Regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications.”

Next steps

The texts must now be formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU. Following final adoption, the Directives will be published in the EU’s Official Journal and enter into force 20 days later.

Background

One of the Digital Market Strategy’s pillars 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.

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. Thelatest Consumer Conditions Scoreboard (2017) shows that those concerns are still present.

The new provisional agreement on digital contract rules is an additionalessential 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.

For more information

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)

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