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EP Proposes European 'Trust Mark' For E-Traders

by Ulrika Lomas, for, Brussels

27 September 2010

The European Parliament (EP) has backed proposals to encourage cross-border e-trading, including the introduction of a European ‘trust mark’ for websites that guarantee the reliability and quality of goods sold online.

While the internet is the fastest growing channel for retail sales, only one in three consumers would consider shopping online from another European Union (EU) country. A European ‘trust mark’, it was said, could boost consumer confidence and so unlock the growth potential of e-trading for Europe.

The new mark would be based on EU law and be supervised by the European Commission (EC). It would be implemented, however, in cooperation with existing trust mark labels in EU member states and backed up by standards enforcement mechanisms at national level.

In addition, as online sales are often hindered by foreign traders refusing to accept orders from consumers living in another EU country, the EP regretted that the EU Services Directive has still not been fully transposed into the laws of some member states. It called on the EC and member states to ensure this is done, thereby putting an end to discrimination against consumers on the basis of their electronic address or residence, and to see that the non-discrimination rule is properly enforced.

The EP also emphasized the need to make e-trading more transparent by ensuring that the consumer always knows the identity and contact details of the supplier. It requested the EC to strengthen consumers' data privacy, stress the importance of supporting the most secure technologies for electronic payment systems and call for a European early-warning system, including a database to combat fraud in the digital market.

Lastly, the parliament calls for a degree of harmonization of some aspects of consumer contract law, especially regarding the handling of certain types of warranty claims.

"E-commerce is a tool with great potential to reshape and improve the competitiveness of the EU economy and the European internal market, and can provide great value and opportunities to European citizens and businesses at this time of financial strain", said the EP's rapporteur, Pablo Arias Echeverria. "It is vital that EU leaders implement the necessary measures to overcome remaining barriers in e-commerce, and create trust and transparency so that both citizens and businesses can fully exploit its benefits".

The EP’s resolution is its response to the EC's March 2010 working paper on barriers holding back consumers and businesses in digital trading. A new directive on consumers' rights is in the pipeline. In addition, the EC has committed itself to issuing a Code of EU Online Rights by 2012.

A comprehensive report in our Intelligence Report series examining the new possibilities that offshore e-commerce open up for business, and analysing the offshore jurisdictions that have led the way in offering professional e-commerce regimes for international business, with a particular focus on e-gaming, is available in the Lowtax Library at and a description of the report can be seen at
TAGS: business | European Commission | commerce | law | offshore e-commerce | offshore | internet | e-commerce | standards | regulation | Europe

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