EP’s JURI and IMCO Committees vote on Digital Services Act reports On 28 September, the European Parliament’s IMCO and JURI Committees voted on their respective own initiative reports on the Digital Services Act (DSA). The IMCO Committee adopted the final version of its report with 86% majority, and the JURI Committee agreed on compromise amendments today and will hold its final committee vote on Thursday, 1 October. The final version of the IMCO’s Report requires that the Commission reinforces the liability regime for online marketplaces and adds more obligations including more information to consumers and enhanced verification of their sellers’ identity. The report also touches upon artificial intelligence, ex ante rules for gate-keeper platforms and online advertising. JURI Committee’s final report asks the Commission to review the civil and commercial law rules applicable to commercial entities operating online and to present a regulation establishing contractual rights as regards to content management. The report focuses on user control, opt-outs for targeted advertising and content curation. The third EP Committee with an own initiative report on the DSA, the IMCO Committee, already adopted the final version of its report on 22 September. Update on e-Privacy The German Presidency of the Council has prepared a compromise text of the e-Privacy Regulation proposal, according to a leaked document. The text was supposed to be discussed on 15 September, but the discussion still has not taken place, allegedly due to disagreement between Germany’s Economy and Justice ministries. With the start of its mandate, the German Presidency had prepared a discussion paper asking for input on the rules for the processing of electronic communications data in Articles 6 to 6d and for the protection of end users’ terminal equipment information in Article 8 of the draft e-Privacy Regulation. The paper offered two policy options: the first was following the lead of the more business friendly Croatian Presidency proposal, and the second was closer to the Finnish Presidency proposal. Portugal, Italy, Finland, Greece, France, the Czech Republic, Poland and the Netherlands, among others, have signaled their preference for the German Presidency’s option 2 for statistical counting and legitimate interest in Article 6. On Article 8, a vast majority of national delegations including France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Denmark and the Netherlands also said they preferred option 2. The German Presidency aims to have a General Approach of the Council by December 2020, after three years of Council negotiations. Only after that, trialogue negotiations will be able to start. Commission publishes Customs Union Action Plan On 28 September, the European Commission launched a new Customs Union Action Plan setting out a series of measures to make EU customs smarter, more innovative and more efficient. The Action Plan includes a number of initiatives in areas such as risk management, managing e-commerce, the promotion of compliance and customs authorities acting as one. In terms of risk management, the Action Plan focuses in particular on ensuring greater availability and use of data and data analysis for customs purposes. It calls for intelligent, risk-based supervision of supply chains and for establishing a new analytics hub within the Commission for collecting, analysing and sharing customs data. Regarding e-commerce, the Plan strengthens obligations on payment service providers and online sales platforms to help fight customs duty and tax fraud in e-commerce. Furthermore, the Plan promotes compliance through the upcoming ‘Single Window’ initiative, which will make it easier for legitimate businesses to complete their border formalities in one single portal and allow for more collaborative processing, sharing and exchange of information. Finally, the Action Plan details the roll-out of modern and reliable customs equipment under the next EU budget. A new reflection group formed of Member States and business representatives will be set up to help prepare for future crises and challenges such as unanticipated global developments and future business models. Sweden publishes position paper on the Digital Services Act On 14 September, the Swedish government published a position paper on the upcoming Digital Services Act (DSA) calling for a focus on illegal content and dangerous and counterfeit goods. The document urges the Commission to focus on illegal as opposed to harmful content, as the coverage of legal yet harmful content is still being openly discussed. Furthermore, Sweden wants the DSA to harmonize notice and action procedures, introduce a Good Samaritan principle and require platforms to verify the identity of their business customers. The paper argues that the DSA should also preserve the main principles of the e-Commerce Directive, although they should be further developed and clarified. For example, this should apply for the principle on mere conduit as well the prohibition on Member States imposing general obligations on providers to monitor their services. Finally, the Swedish government welcomes the Commission’s plan to draft ex ante rules but warns they should be coherent with the review of EU competition law and the Platform-to-Business (P2B) Regulation. Commission reacts to platforms’ agreement with advertisers On 23 September, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, in collaboration with marketers and agencies through the Global Alliance for Responsible Media have agreed to adopt a common set of definitions for hate speech and other harmful content and to collaborate with a view to monitoring industry efforts to improve in this critical area. As the European Commission is currently drafting the Digital Services Act (DSA), which will deal with content moderation online, a Commission spokesperson has stated that while self-regulatory agreements as the one in question are potentially useful, it is important to bring on the table the interest and fundamental rights of users, and not leave the solutions be driven solely by economic interests. There is currently no EU-wide definition of hate speech and whether the DSA will define harmful content remains unclear. In June, the Commission stated that instead of harmonising definitions throughout the bloc, the DSA could instead harmonise procedures for dealing with them. More and more voices in the Parliament and the Commission are now saying that dealing with reach is more relevant than requiring material deletions.
EP’s JURI Committee reaches preliminary agreement on Digital Services Act draft report Political groups in the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) have reached a compromise on MEP Tiemo Wölken’s (S&D, Germany) initiative draft report ‘Digital Services Act: adapting commercial and civil law rules for commercial entities operating online’. MEP Wölken’s text revolves around three pillars: the protection of fundamental rights such as freedom of speech, a new approach to dealing with disinformation, and privacy. He argues that illegal and legal yet harmful content, such as disinformation, should be dealt with differently, stating that there should be clear procedural standards of how platforms should deal with notified illegal content. Furthermore, the draft report proposes an independent dispute settlement body that would be supported by a fund financed by the largest platforms. A separate agency working at EU-level would be in charge of enforcement, including via the auditing of algorithms. Yet, MEP Wölken argues that the DSA should not impose new obligations to use content filtering technologies or any kind of ex ante control, and calls for tackling the ad-based model of social media platforms instead. The agreement of political coordinators on the draft report paves the way for its adoption after a committee vote scheduled for 28 September, when the IMCO Committee will also vote on its draft initiative report on the Digital Services Act (DSA). Furthermore, the Commission has announced that the Digital Services Act package will likely be published on 2 December 2020 (target date). Commission launches new roadmap on sustainable products On 14 September, the European Commission launched a new roadmap titled ‘Sustainable products initiative’, which will revise the Ecodesign Directive and propose additional legislative measures as appropriate. Currently, the Directive only covers energy-related products and the planned revision aims to widen its scope to cover a wider range of products including electronics and tech. The Commission is also considering establishing minimal requirements on mandatory sustainability labelling, improving information sharing in the form of a digital product passport and measures on production processes, for example to facilitate recycled content. Furthermore, the Commission is considering measures to ban the destruction of unsold durable goods, as well as rules to make producers responsible for marketing more circular products and providing better repair services. The initiative aims to make products placed on the EU market more sustainable and will also address digital product information and the presence of harmful chemicals in products such as electronics & ICT equipment, textiles, furniture, steel and cements. The deadline for providing input to the roadmap is 2 November 2020 and the Commission proposal is expected by the end of 2021. The Netherlands publishes a non-paper on the upcoming Digital Services Act On 14 September, the Netherlands published a non-paper on the revision of the e-Commerce Directive and the introduction of the Digital Services Act, which calls for the DSA to distinguish between hosting services and services whose business model is linked to the consumption of information that users deliberately upload, such as social media platforms. According to the Dutch government, the Commission should not revise the e-Commerce Directive’s (ECD) articles 12 and 13, which guarantee that communications networks are not liable for illegal content. However, article 14 should be amended to clarify the roles and responsibilities of platforms such as social media, who benefit from the ECD’s limited liability regime while being “widely misused for sharing or disseminating illegal or unlawful information or carrying out unlawful or illegal activities.” The non-paper argues that the revision of the Directive should maintain some of the legislation’s principles, such as the protection of fundamental rights, consumers, and businesses, and avoid additional administrative burdens. Regarding the country of origin principle, the Dutch government calls for the DSA to ensure a good balance between economic freedoms and public interests. Commission’s upcoming strategy for payments introduces instant payment system and digital euro According to a leaked version of the European Commission’s Retail Payments Strategy, expected to be published by the end of September, the Commission plans to introduce instant payment systems and a digital euro to prevent foreign digital companies from taking over the EU market. The 26-page document states that the Commission will continue to play an active political role to foster the development of pan-European payment solutions that rely extensively on instant payments, proposing the development of a single, open and secure European standard for QR-codes on mobile phones. The target set for the implementation of instant payment in the EU is the end of 2021. Given the upcoming launch of Facebook’s Libra digital currency this fall and the pressure form the European Central Bank (ECB) for the Commission to mandate a shift to systems for instantaneous bank transfers and purchases, the draft strategy argues that “Big Tech firms can use their customer data and network effect advantages to enter the payments sector, leveraging their market power from social media or search services”. The Commission also proposes to work with the ECB on developing a digital euro, which central bankers have discussed as a response to the emergence of virtual currencies such as Libra. A digital euro could strengthen the Commission’s effort to challenge the U.S. dollar’s dominance on world markets and protect Europe from protectionist policies and foreign sanctions. Still, the communication says further work is needed, especially when it comes to assessing the possible impacts that a digital currency could have on monetary policy and financial stability. Commission launches public consultation on carbon border adjustment mechanism On 22 July, the European Commission launched an public consultation on the new carbon border adjustment mechanism, part of the Green Deal. A Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) would ensure that the price of imports reflects more accurately their carbon content. This measure will be designed to comply with World Trade Organization rules and other international obligations of the EU. It would be an alternative to the current free allocation of allowances or compensation for the increase in electricity costs that address the risk of carbon leakage, because of carbon pricing in the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS). The public consultation aims to gather citizens’ opinion on policy options and their possible impacts and to identify opportunities and challenges in relation to the future Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism. The deadline for providing input for the consultation is 28 October and the Commission’s proposal is expected in the second quarter of 2021.
Ecommerce Europe provides feedback to the Commission’s Digital Services Act consultation On 8 September, the European Commission closed its 3-month public consultation on the Digital Services Act (DSA). The consultation sought input on topics such as keeping users safe online, upgrading the liability regime of digital intermediaries, issues deriving form platforms’ gatekeeper powers, transparency in online advertising, as well as provisions for platform workers. The results will feed into the Commission’s upcoming Digital Services Act, which will likely include a revision of the e-Commerce Directive (ECD), introduction of ex ante rules for ‘gatekeeper’ platforms and potential
provisions for platform workers. Ecommerce Europe, with the support of its members, successfully managed to provide input for this important consultation, after having discussed and adopted a position paper on the DSA. In short, the paper calls for a future-proof approach to the upcoming DSA, while ensuring legal consistency and addressing legal fragmentation across the EU. The paper further argues for maintaining the country of origin principle and expresses support for an EU regulation or directive aiming at full harmonization as a legislative tool. A whole section deals with the issue of non-compliant products entering the EU market and calls for a level playing field. Ecommerce Europe flags several issues and challenges with the current legislative framework and provides EU policymakers with a general direction to follow, thus leaving it to the various members to further discuss national views/solutions with EU policymakers. This way, Ecommerce Europe managed to obtain a workable paper that can be used by every member, despite diverging views on how to solve individual issues. The Commission is expected to publish its DSA proposal by the end of the year, with the European Parliament still finalizing the work on three own-initiative reports, which will be put to a vote during the October Plenary session.
Ecommerce Europe provides feedback to the Commission’s consultation on Product Safety
On 9 September, the European Commission closed its consultation on the review of the General Product Safety Directive (GPSD). The consultation (which was prepared by a consultancy firm) aimed to gather input on issues related to new technologies and online sales, better enforcement of the rules and more efficient and even market surveillance, simplification the standardization process, and improving the recall of dangerous products in the hands of consumers. The feedback gathered will be used for a possible future revision of the Directive. Ecommerce Europe provided input for the consultation, stating that the current EU legal framework for product safety is overall fit for purpose as it is principle based, which makes it easy to apply these principles by way of interpretation to new technologies. However, Ecommerce Europe argues that the GPSD framework could be improved by ensuring a more harmonized and uniform interpretation of its rules across the EU, by increasing the funding and capabilities of Member States’ enforcement authorities, and eventually by promoting intergovernmental cooperation to act against non-compliant players based outside the EU. For further information on Ecommerce Europe’s position, please contact Maike Jansen (maikejansen@ecommerce-europe. eu).
MEP Saliba drafts a new version of DSA initiative report
On 9 September, Member of European Parliament (MEP) Alex Agius Saliba (S&D, Malta) presented a new version of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) Committee’s draft report on Digital Services Act: Improving the functioning of the Single Market, of which he is the rapporteur. The text reflects amendments suggested by the consulting committees on the file and proposes limited changes. It states that the DSA should not affect the General Data Protection Regulation’s (GDPR) data minimization principle and should allow users to “opt-out, limit or personalize” the use of automated personalization features, including for ranking and content curation. After a final discussion between the negotiators for the S&D and shadow rapporteurs on 10 September, the IMCO Committee is close to finalizing the text of the report. The Committee vote will be held on 28 September and the Plenary vote is scheduled for October.
EP’s TRAN Committee adopts Opinion on Digital Services Act
On 2 September, European Parliament’s TRAN Committee adopted its Opinion to the IMCO Committee’s draft report on ‘Digital Services Act: Improving the functioning of the Single Market’. The opinion calls on the Commission to clarify the liability of transport and tourism platforms, taking into account their specific business model. It invites the Commission to set a uniform obligation for transport and tourism platforms to verify the identity of the service providers and to request from service providers the permits, licenses and certificates attesting the legality and safety of the service offered. Furthermore, it draws attention to the very specific nature of content on transport and tourism platforms compared to other sectors, which in some instances is required to be compliant with precise criteria set at national level and calls for a sector-specific EU-coordinated effort involving all stakeholders to agree on such criteria. The TRAN Committee calls on the Commission to enhance the relationship between stakeholders and local authorities in the Short-Term Rental market and mobility services and stresses the need to promote data exchanges, digitisation and big data on transport and logistics platforms in the interests of greater efficiency. Finally, the opinion highlights the need for online platforms in Transport and Tourism to promote sustainability through their services in line with the European Green Deal and calls on the Commission to set up an EU Platform for the exchange of data and information between all stakeholders in the tourism sector to facilitate the sharing of best practices and promoting sustainability in the recovery phase. The IMCO Committee vote on the draft report will take place on 28 September, followed by a Plenary vote in October.
EP’s JURI Committee adopts draft opinion on the Digital Services Act On 2 September, European Parliament’s JURI Committee adopted its draft opinion on Digital Services Act: Improving the functioning of the Single Market with 20 votes in favor, 1 against, and 3 abstentions. Prior to the vote the rapporteur Patrick Breyer (Greens/EFA, Germany) stated that the opinion addressed major challenges of the digital age to put an end to surveillance capitalism and stressed that unlawful content needed to be treated in line with the rule of law and following an assessment of the content, which filtering algorithms were unable to do. The opinion will feed into EP’s IMCO Committee’s draft report on Digital Services Act: Improving the functioning of the Single Market, for which the IMCO Committee will hold a vote on 28 September. Prior to the Committee vote, the draft report will be discussed in the EP Plenary on 14 September, followed by a final Plenary vote on 19 October. EP’s IMCO Committee discusses Communications on the Digital Strategy for Europe On 3 September, European Parliament’s IMCO Committee discussed the Digital Strategy for Europe with representatives of the European Commission. Manuel Peix Castiella (DG CONNECT) presented an overview of the developments regarding the Digital Strategy, referring to the proposal for a Digital Education Action Plan, the reinforced Digital Skills Agenda and an initiative to improve labor conditions for platform workers, aimed to address the digital skills and gig economy part of the Strategy. Furthermore, the Commission adopted a Working Paper on AI to address EU values and proposed a revised EuroHPC regulation on supercomputing, and aimed at deploying joint capacities in AI, cyber, super and quantum computing. In terms of the Strategy’s second pillar on a fair and competitive economy, the Commission had adopted strategies on Industrial Policy and SMEs, and is considering the inclusion of ex-ante rules in the upcoming Digital Services Act. Regarding the third pillar on a open, democratic and sustainable society, the Commission proposed new revised rules to increase and harmonize online platforms’ and information services providers’ responsibilities and a revision of the eIDs regulation as well as the Circular electronics initiative. He added that the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) would include InvestEU, Digital Europe, Connecting Europe Facility, the EU 5G deployment support program, Horizon Europe, developing programs in health, industry and space, climate, energy and mobility, and the European Innovation Council. EP’s IMCO Committee holds exchange on AI with Commission On 3 September, European Parliament’s IMCO Committee discussed developments concerning the White Paper on Artificial Intelligence with Commission officials. Kilian Gross (DG CONNECT) presented the Commission’s work regarding AI. He announced that a first analysis of the public consultation on the White Paper for AI was available and that the Commission was currently organizing workshops as well as an European AI Alliance Assembly, scheduled for 9 October 2020. Regarding high-risk AI systems, identified in the AI White Paper, he stated that the Commission would introduce an external conformity assessment for products and strict requirements on training data, information, record keeping, robustness and accuracy, human oversight and biometric identification. He elaborated that such systems would be checked ex-ante with post-ante monitoring and market surveillance mechanisms. Additionally, the Commission has proposed a voluntary labeling system for low-risk AI systems. Mr. Gross concluded that the industry sector was hesitant on the need for a new legislation and seemed to prefer to fill the gaps in current legislation and that the main risk identified concerned fundamental rights and discrimination. He stated that the Commission would prepare an impact assessment before tabling the legal proposal, taking into account Parliament’s opinion. European Commission ready to launch Digital Tax next summer On 4 September, during a meeting with national tax officials in the High Level Working Party on Tax Questions, the European Commission presented their plans to launch a new digital tax in the summer of 2021. The tax is meant to feed into the EU budget necessary for the recovery plans. It is not clear how the negotiations at OECD level will impact the EU digital tax, as some say that the tax will come regardless of the progress at OECD level, while the Commission officially states it will only come forward with a new tax proposal if OECD negotiations fail. OECD negotiations for a global digital tax still have several political obstacles to overcome, according to two leaked blueprints on pillar one and pillar two. The documents, which are still subject to change, highlight which aspects of the blueprints still require a political decision. For pillar one, the OECD highlights leaders need to decide on the scope of the tax, the amount of profits to be reallocated as well as the extent of tax certainty. The U.S. has strongly opposed pillar one, arguing that it discriminates against US companies. Last June, the U.S. announced it wanted to pause negotiations. Consequently, France, the UK, Spain and Italy suggested a “phased approach” to the digital tax talks. Some other countries (i.e. Austria) decided to proceed anyway. There will be a meeting with G20 finance ministers on 15-16 October. The OECD’s plan is to have a global tax deal by the G20 summit in Saudi Arabia in November.
Commission published roadmap and public consultation on European Digital Identity On 23 and 24 July, the European Commission launched respectively an Inception Impact Assessment (roadmap) and a public consultation on European Digital Identity (EUid). The two initiatives are being undertaken in the context of the revision of the eIDAS Regulation, which is expected to be presented as part of the Digital Services Act by the end of the year. The eIDAS Regulation, adopted in 2014, introduced the first cross-border framework for trusted digital identities and the so-called trust services such as electronic signatures that can be used to sign documents in the online world. It is meant to ensure secure and seamless electronic interaction between citizens, businesses and public authorities. The main focus of the Commission’s initiative is to assess the extent to which the eIDAS framework remains fit for purpose and whether it is appropriate to modify the scope of the Regulation or its specific provisions, taking into account the experience gained in the application, as well as technological, market and legal developments. The Commission will consider revising the eIDAS Regulation to improve its effectiveness, extend its benefits to the private sector and promote trusted digital identities for all Europeans. The aim of the public consultation is to collect feedback on drivers and barriers to the development and uptake of eID and trust services in Europe and on the impacts of the options for delivering an EU digital identity. It targets the broad public (e.g. citizens and end-users, including older persons and persons with disabilities) as well as companies directly impacted by the eIDAS Regulation (e.g. trust service providers, identity providers), competent authorities in the Member States, international organizations and concerned stakeholders. The deadline for contributions to the roadmap is 27 August and the deadline for the public consultation is 2 October. Commission publishes Summary report of the public consultation on the European strategy for data On 24 July, the European Commission published a summary report of the public consultation on the European Strategy for Data, which was open for contribution from February to May and to which Ecommerce Europe contributed. The summary report takes stock of the contributions and presents preliminary trends that emerge from them, focusing on quantitative aspects. Almost all respondents (97.2%) confirmed the need for an overarching data strategy to enable the digital transformation of society, and 91.5% agreed that ‘More data should be available for the common good, for example for improving mobility, delivering personalised medicine, reducing energy consumption and making our society greener.’ Regarding data governance, there is a general consensus (91% of the 554 respondents to the question) that standardisation is necessary to improve interoperability and ultimately data re-use across sectors. 82.2% of respondents considered that the establishment of a list of high-value datasets, to be made available free of charge, without restrictions and via application program interfaces (APIs), is a good way to ensure that public sector data has a positive impact on the EU’s economy and society. This online consultation is part of a broader stakeholder consultation process that will contribute to the preparation of several data initiatives. These include a legislative framework on the common European data spaces, expected in 2020, and an implementing act on a list of high-value datasets, expected in 2021. Commission launches roadmap on Requirements for Artificial Intelligence On 23 July, the European Commission launched an Inception Impact Assessment (roadmap) on Requirements for Artificial Intelligence. While Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a strategic technology with tremendous opportunities, some of its uses pose specific significant risks relating to the application of various EU rules designed to protect fundamental rights, to ensure safety and to attribute liability. With this initiative, the Commission aims to ensure that AI is developed and used in an appropriate legal framework with the overall goal to stimulate the up-take of trustworthy AI in the Single Market. The deadline for contributions is 10 September and the Commission is planning to release a public consultation on the topic in the near future. Commission’s Joint Research Center publishes report on Artificial Intelligence and Digital Transformation On 22 July, the European Commission’s Joint Research Center published a report on ‘Artificial Intelligence and Digital Transformation: early lessons from the COVID-19 crisis.’ The report analyses the increasing use of AI in medicine and healthcare, the tensions in data sharing between individual rights and collective wellbeing, the search for technological solutions like contact tracing apps to help monitor the spread of the virus, and the potential concerns they raise. The report concludes that the COVID-19 crisis has acted as a boost for AI adoption and data sharing, and created new opportunities. It has also amplified concerns for democracy and social inequality and showed Europe’s vulnerability on data and platforms, calling for action to address these crucial aspects. Commission’s High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence publishes Sectoral recommendations On 23 July, the European Commission’s High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence (AI HLEG) published its Sectoral considerations on the policy and investment recommendations for trustworthy AI. The document is non-binding and lists specific requirements for the manufacturing and Internet of Things sector, public sector (justice and law-enforcement) and healthcare sector. The report makes recommendations on how governments and the tech industry should cooperate and use AI in a trustworthy way. It also emphasises the importance to build an environment where EU citizens are protected from potential harm or discrimination caused by AI. Additionally, the report identifies the lack of digital skills and literacy, data spaces and digital infrastructure as the main obstacles for future AI innovation. This is the second document published by the AI HLEG. Last week, they published a nonbinding Assessment List for Trustworthy AI, intended to be used as a tool by companies to develop and use AI in a trustworthy way. With the Assessment List and the Sectoral Considerations report published, the AI HLEG’s three-year mandate is now completed. Both documents will most probably feed into the Commission’s upcoming AI legislation, expected in Q1 2021.
Commission launches public consultation on the Postal Services Directive On 13 July, the European Commission launched a public consultation on the evaluation of the Postal Services Directive (97/67/EC), postponed for 2021 by the Commission because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of the consultation is to collect stakeholders’ opinions on whether the Postal Services Directive, lastly revised in 2008, has achieved its objectives and remains relevant in the current context. It should complement the information provided by statistical data and studies, with recent evidence about the state of affairs and trends in the postal markets. The results of the public consultation will factor into the evaluation report that will assess, in the first place, whether the Directive still fits the purpose for which it was adopted in 1997 and, second, whether new policy objectives might need to be considered in the future. The deadline for contributions is 9 November 2020. Ecommerce Europe is still in the process of preparing a position paper on the directive, which will serve as a basis to reply to the consultation. The e-Logistics Working Group will be consulted accordingly. Update on the VAT E-commerce Package deferral On 24 June, Council’s COREPER (Member States’ ambassadors to the EU) reached a preliminary agreement on the European Commission’s proposal to defer the implementation of the VAT E-commerce Package by 6 months from 1 January 2021 to 1 July 2021. This postponement will include:
- The launch of the VAT One-Stop-Shop;
- The abolition of the import VAT exemption for small consignments (up to €22) and the Import One-Stop-Shop VAT return;
- Rules on marketplaces as deemed suppliers related to VAT.
- Action Plan for fair and simple taxation supporting the recovery;
- Revision on the Directive on administrative cooperation (DAC 7);
- Communication on tax good governance in the EU and beyond.
Commission will put forward a digital tax proposal in early 2021 According to the latest budget proposal from 10 July by Council President Charles Michel, the European Commission will present a proposal for the introduction of a EU-wide digital tax in the beginning of 2021. The tax is expected to bring €1.3 billion to the EU in terms of revenue in case the ongoing OECD negotiations fail to deliver an international agreement by the end of 2020. With the withdrawal of the United States from the negotiations, France has announced its intention to lift the suspension on imposing its national tax by the end of the year, which might be met with retaliation in terms of tariffs from the US side. The budget proposal will be discussed at the European Summit on 17 and 18 July in Brussels. Commission publishes Q&A on Platform to Business Regulation On 10 July, the European Commission published a Q&A on Establishing a Fair, Trusted and Innovation Driven Ecosystem in the Online Platform Economy. The document is aimed to provide practical guidance on the main provisions of the Platform to Business Regulation (P2B Regulation), which entered its application phase on 12 July. The document contains information in the form of detailed questions and answers which can be useful to: providers of online intermediation services and online search engines which may need to adapt their commercial practices in accordance with the P2B Regulation; business users or corporate website users; representative organisations or associations, or public bodies; and for the authorities in the Member States who are responsible for the enforcement of the P2B Regulation. However, the long-anticipated P2B Ranking Transparency Guidelines have not yet been published and are expected to be released in the next few weeks. Commission launches public consultation on progress reports on the online platform economy On 10 July, the European Commission launched a public consultation for three draft progress reports, published by the expert group to the EU Observatory on the Online Platform Economy: Measurement of the Online Platform Economy; Differentiated treatment; and Data in the Online Platform Economy. The three draft reports cover the major aspects of data access, differentiated treatment and methodological ideas relating to the question on how best to measure key aspects of the online platform economy. These preliminary reports point to imbalances in market power in the relationship between online platforms and their users in terms of both access to, and the use of data, as well as discrimination as a potential source of issues. The progress reports will feed into the Commission’s current work priorities in the digital area as announced in the Commission’s Communication on Shaping Europe’s Digital Future as well as in its Data Strategy. They will provide evidence for the upcoming initiative on the ex-ante regulation of platforms with significant network effects acting as gatekeepers as part of the Digital Services Act package. The deadline for providing feedback for the public consultation is 8 September and the final report is expected to be adopted by the end of 2020. German Presidency starts work on proposals for the e-Privacy Regulation On 6 July, the German Presidency distributed a discussion paper to national delegations asking for input on the rules for the processing of electronic communications data in Articles 6 to 6d and for the protection of end users’ terminal equipment information in Article 8 of the e-Privacy Regulation proposal. The Presidency has provided sets of options for each point of discussion, offering both the Croatian and Finnish proposals as solutions to Article 8 tackling the issue of appropriately balancing a high level of protection of end-users’ privacy with the legitimate interests of online publishers. Member States will be asked to give their options on the aforementioned articles during a Working Party on 13 July and will have until 24 July to submit written comments, with the new compromise text expected shortly after. The Presidency aims to close the file by December 2020, after three years of Council negotiations.
Coreper approves Collective Redress Agreement On 30 June, Coreper formally endorsed the text on the Collective Redress Directive, on which the EU co-negotiators agreed in trialogue on 22 June. The text is based on the latest Council’s Coreper agreed text with some additions coming from the European Parliament’s resolution from end 2018. The directive requires member states to put in place a system of representative actions for the protection of consumers’ collective interests against infringements of Union law. It covers actions for both injunctions and redress measures. It empowers qualified entities, meaning organizations that can bring cases forward, designated by Member States to seek injunctions and/or redress, including compensation or replacement, on behalf of a group of consumers that has been harmed by a trader who has allegedly infringed one of the EU legal acts set out in the annex to the directive. During the trialogue negotiations, the designation of qualified entities was a red line for the Council. The directive will allow each country to name at least one qualified entity that will be allowed to bring cases forward, and the split between cross-border and domestic cases remains. The eligibility criteria for qualified entities in cross-border cases will be harmonized on a EU level, while for domestic actions a qualified entity will have to fulfill the criteria set out in the law of its Member State of designation (or those set out in the directive in case the Member State does not have such law in place). The political agreement still needs to be approved by the Parliament and Council. After the Directive enters into force, EU member states will have two years to transpose it into their national laws and six months to apply it. Ecommerce Europe has been coordinating actions with other EU trade associations on this file, including a recent push to improve the text. Commission launches targeted consultation on cross-border parcel delivery On 1 July, the European Commission launched a targeted consultation on cross-border parcel delivery, which will run until 30 September 2020. The targeted consultation is addressed to parcel delivery service providers, consumers and retailers, as well as their associations, and the social partners. The aim of the consultation is to gather respondents’ views on the application of Regulation (EU) 2018/644 on cross border parcel delivery services. The Regulation aims at enhancing regulatory oversight and transparency in the parcel delivery sector, in particular by enhancing transparency of public list tariffs for certain parcel delivery services and by providing for the assessment of certain cross-border parcel delivery tariffs. The feedback received from stakeholders will feed into a report on the application of the Regulation which will be published by the European Commission. The report will assess the Regulation’s contribution to the improvement of cross-border parcel delivery services and its impact on e-commerce. Commission launches public consultation on a New Consumer Agenda On 30 June, the European commission launched a public consultation on the upcoming New Consumer Agenda, which the European Commission intends to publish on 18 November 2020, according to a Commission official. Last week the Commission also published the Roadmap for the Agenda. The Commission will present a communication laying out a new vision on the role of consumers, gaps in effective enforcement of consumer rights and disparities between different national consumer policies. The text will cover issues addressed in three initiatives next year, namely the update of the Consumer Credit Directive; the improvement of information on sustainable products and the revision of the General Product Safety Directive. The open public consultation includes questions on overall consumer policy strategy, on empowering consumers for the green transition, and on the reviews of the Consumer Credit Directive and of the General Product Safety Directive. The deadline for contributions is 6 October 2020. Commission to publish report on online platforms next week The European Commission is planning to publish an expert report on potentially harmful practices within the online platform economy between 6 and 12 July, according to Commission officials. The report will include the findings of the Expert group of 15 academics, supporting the EU Observatory on the Online Platform Economy. The observatory and the expert group were set up to monitor the latest trends in the sector with the adoption of the Platform-to-Business (P2B) Regulation, which will enter into application as of 12 July. The topics the expert group was tasked with researching include algorithmic decision-making and ranking of search results, access to data, remuneration for online content, and preferential treatment for products offered by the platform. After a peer review and comment period, the findings of the expert report will be considered in the drafting of the Digital Services Act proposal, planned for Q4 2020. The Commission is also expected to publish guidelines on ranking and questions and answers linked to the P2B Regulation in the same timeframe as the expert report, 6 to 12 July.
Political agreement (trialogue) reached on the Collective Redress Directive On 22 June, the EU co-negotiators agreed in trialogue on the text on the Collective Redress Directive. The final text is still not available yet and it will be published in the coming days after a formal vote in COREPER. From the information gathered so far, we know that the text is based on the latest Council’s COREPER agreed text with some additions coming from the European Parliament’s resolution from end 2018. The agreement means that the consumers will be able to file class-actions in various areas such as data protection, passenger rights, travel and tourism, environment, and many others, including retail. During the trialogue negotiations, a red line for the Council was the designation of so-called qualified entities, meaning organizations that can bring cases forward. The directive will allow each country to name at least one qualified entity that will be allowed to bring cases forward, and the split between cross-border and domestic cases remains. The criteria for qualified entities in cross-border cases will be harmonized, but countries will have more freedom when it comes to domestic cases. Ecommerce Europe has been coordinating actions with other EU trade associations on this file, including a recent push to improve the text. After the joint business statement, we can notice a positive evolution. In particular:
- The new tool is only usable by qualified entities, and not given to any citizen like in the United States. This is an important filter.
- There are important safeguards still included such as the loser pays principle and rules around third party funding (which few countries worldwide possess).
Third collective redress trialogue to be held today After intense discussion in the past weeks in the Council Working Party (meetings on 3 and 10 June and written exchanges since then) the Croatian Presidency sent to COREPER a compromise text for examination and political endorsement on 17 June 2020. It is based on a Commission non-paper that was circulated at the end of May. The revised mandate of the Council serves as a basis for the next trilogue with the European Parliament and Commission on 22 June. The Presidency is linking the need for a swift agreement with the context of COVID19 crisis where consumer rights have been strongly affected. However, some problematic elements remain, such as lack of a true homogeneity requirement for collective redress, inclusion of GDPR in the scope and the need for proper safeguards on qualified entities. If the trialogue does not result in an agreement, the file will be taken over by the German Presidency, who have not commented on it but is expected due to pressure to have to prioritize the closure of the file. US withdrawal from OECD Global Digital Tax talks On 17 June, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer stated that United States Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin decided to pull out of negotiations on digital services taxes with European Union officials after they failed to make any progress. On 12 June, Mnuchin sent a letter announcing the United States will no longer be part of the negotiations, suggesting a pause in the OECD talks on international taxation while governments around the world focus on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and safely reopening their economies. Yet, some US officials still believe an agreement could be reached by the end of 2020. After Washington confirmed that it had pulled out of the OECD talks, officials including Bruno Le Maire, French Finance Minister, and Paolo Gentiloni, European Economy Commissioner, expressed their support for national or EU-wide digital levies plans that would likely bring retaliation from the United States. France stated that it would enforce its national digital services tax, while Italy and the UK stated they remained hopeful for a global solution. At the EU level, the Commission said it would revive plans for an EU-wide tax if the OECD level negotiations become thwarted by US’s withdrawal. The tension between the US and the EU could transform into a trade war, given the active US probe into national digital tax bills and its threat to impose tariffs on French products if France enforces its digital tax. For now, Angel Gurría, the OECD’s Secretary General, urged countries to remain at the negotiating table with the aim of reaching a global digital tax deal by year-end. Yet, he added, failing to agree on a global solution would eventually increase trade disputes just as governments worldwide were struggling economically because of the COVID-19 public health crisis. Commission publishes Report-contribution from the Multistakeholder Expert Group to the 2020 GDPR Evaluation On 17 June, the European Commission published the Contribution from the Multistakeholder Expert Group to the Commission 2020 evaluation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This report is an update of the contribution of the expert group, which gathers business and civil society associations, among which Ecommerce Europe, on the basis of the Commission’s revised questionnaire of 25 November 2019. Members of the Expert Group emphasized the considerable investments businesses have made in ensuring compliance with GDPR and the workload generated by GDPR accountability requirements. Several organizations experienced difficulties in respect of the information technology systems they use and found it challenging to deal with data subjects’ requests for access and erasure. Some members indicate difficulties in applying the GDPR stemming from the way that certain provisions of GDPR are formulated (absence of a definition of ‘risks’ in relation to personal data breach notification, no definition of ‘processing on a large scale’, no minimum threshold for when to include a processing activity in the records). Some members complain that the GDPR lacks exceptions for SMEs, and that the law in some Member States obliges them to appoint a Data Protection Officer also in situations not required by the GDPR. Several members report that, while there has been a high level of awareness of individuals about the GDPR, they do not always fully understand the impact of the GDPR; for example, there are misunderstandings leading to the assumption that it is always necessary to obtain their consent or that the right to erasure is absolute. Some members also report concerns on the fact that the ePrivacy Regulation is not yet adopted, which leads to legal uncertainty for telecom operators and online services on the application of the law and on the scope of the future additional requirements. Therefore, they call on the Commission, the Parliament and the Council to fully align ePrivacy with the GDPR. EP JURI Committee discusses draft opinion on Digital Services Act On 15 June, European Parliament’s JURI Committee considered its Draft opinion on IMCO’s Draft report called ‘Digital Services Act: Improving the functioning of the Single Market.’ The rapporteur, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Patrick Breyer (Greens/EFA, DE) focused on three key issues: privacy, unlawful content and interconnectivity. He called for the end of the permanent tracking and recording of online behavior and argued for the right to use digital services anonymously. He demanded more user control over the content they wished to see, argued for the ban of online filters and supported the evaluation of the legality of messages by independent public authorities. Lastly, he stressed the lock-in effect of tech companies on their platforms, instead of interconnectivity with other services. The EPP argued that the issue of data protection at the EU level would not be solved through anonymity but rather through stable and predictable digital services rules as well as accountable data protection rules. Furthermore, the EPP called for a balance between protecting freedom of expression and taking down misleading or hateful content, stating that it was up to the platforms to flag the offence and to respond to authorities’ request to take down content but that stricter regulation on digital content was inadvisable as it had to match regulation offline. S&D and Renew Europe expressed general support for the opinion and opposed the idea of ex-ante content control. The deadline for amendments was 17 June and the Committee vote will be held on 3 September.
DG GROW replies to Ecommerce Europe on P2B ranking Guidelines Ecommerce Europe reached out to the European Commission’s DG GROW at the end of April to share members’ remaining concerns in view of the application of the Regulation on (EU) 2019/1150 on Platform-to-Business (P2B) relations, which will come into application on 12 July 2020. We specifically flagged issues related to ranking (art. 5) and the fact that the Commission’s Guidelines are unduly delayed by several months, basically leaving businesses without the necessary clarity on how to update their terms and conditions. Last Friday, DG GROW informed Ecommerce Europe that the Commission is advancing with the necessary procedures to publish them. However, due to the unprecedented events (read “COVID-19”), the Commission had to modify its original intention to have these guidelines available in April 2020. If the Commission can proceed with its new timetable, the guidelines should be published in July, but they cannot confirm it yet. The Commission asked us to reassure our members that they are using their “best endeavors to expedite the publication of the ranking guidelines and that the guidelines, and the proposed detailed Q&A, are both documents that shall remain a valuable source after the application date of the Regulation.” On Tuesday 16 June, we will have a follow up call with other associations to further discuss this matter and we will update members accordingly. Ecommerce Europe sent its contribution to the Commission’s public consultation on AI Ecommerce Europe contributed on Friday 15 June to the Commission’s consultation on the White paper on Artificial Intelligence. The key messages highlighted in the reply are: the need to ensure access to general and practical knowledge on AI, but also strong cooperation to ensure the EU has the necessary capacity to develop state of the art but also accessible AI solutions; the fact that the existing EU framework is sufficient to tackle concerns arising from the development and use of AI solutions when it comes to safety and liability; and that particular attention should be paid to full harmonization of national legal framework and legal certainty (e.g. definition of the role of deployers). The result of the consultation will feed in the European Commission’s work on a legislative proposal on AI in Q4 2020. EU Parliament starts negotiations on the Digital Services Act The Member of the European Parliament Alex Agius Saliba (S&D, MT) has started drafting compromise amendments on his draft report called “Digital Services Act: Improving the functioning of the Single Market” in the European Parliament’s IMCO Committee, according to a leaked document. The spirit of the initial draft report is not changed, yet additional requirements have been added for platforms in the following areas: fair contract terms and general conditions; transparency requirements on commercial communications – including the introduction of accountability and fairness criteria of algorithms used for targeted advertising; and notice and action mechanisms to deal with illegal content. Additionally, he states that the Digital Services Act should “maintain its derogations of non-active providers” and calls on the Commission to clarify the concept of active versus passive hosts, which under the 2000 e-Commerce Directive determines whether an intermediary is liable for illegal content hosted. Mr. Saliba calls for a differentiation between the measures for digital services offered in a purely business-to-business relationship, and services which are targeted directly at consumers and the general public. Shadow rapporteurs from the political groups will meet on Monday 15 June to discuss the text. Commissioner Dombrovskis replies to Ecommerce Europe on the impact of COVID-19 on the transition to Strong Customer Authentication Ecommerce Europe reached out to the European Commission on 31 March asking that “full consideration be given to granting a harmonised extension to the current deadline of 31 December 2020 for the migration to SCA”. The European Commission shares that the European Banking Authorities to extend the period of regulatory flexibility, and the Commission themselves do not support any further delay. The rules are therefore set to fully apply by 31 December 2020. You will find the letter here.
Omnibus Directive Transposition: Commission publishes draft minutes of the first workshopThe European Commission’s DG JUST published the draft minutes of the first workshop on the transposition of the Directive on better enforcement and modernization of EU consumer protection (so-called “Omnibus Directive”) adopted on 27 November 2019. The new rules on the announcement of price reductions were also part of the discussion with Member States. On its scope, DG JUST clarified that price comparisons where traders demonstrate a price advantage by comparing to another reference price (e.g. ‘recommended retail price’), would not be subject to the new rule but they remain subject to the Unfair Commercial practices Directive (UCPD) provisions. It depends on the traders’ business model whether they announce a reduction of their own prices (in accordance with the rule) or compare their prices with other traders’ prices or recommended retail prices. Obviously, they need to make it absolutely clear to consumers that their announcement is indeed a price comparison and not a reduction of their own price. launching price together with other forms of price advantages have also been discussed (see the draft minutes for more information). EU Member States have two years to transpose these new rules: national implementation measures must be adopted by 28 November 2021 and Member States are required to apply the new measures from 28 May 2022, with some Member States already making progress on the transposition process. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Commission’s work on the Directive will likely resume in September, with the second transposition workshop tentatively planned for October 2020.
Council publishes draft conclusions on shaping Europe’s digital futureOn 3 June, the Council of the EU published an updated draft conclusions on Europe’s digital future. The conclusions emphasize the importance of accelerated digital transition to EU’s recovery from the COVID-19 generated economic crisis and call for reinforced European digital sovereignty. Member States express support for the Commission’s plans for a European cloud federation and for a labeling scheme for artificial intelligence, as long as their use remains voluntary. On the Digital Services Act, national delegations stressed the need for clear and harmonized rules on responsibilities of digital services and welcomed the Commission’s intention to look into ex-ante rules for platforms. In terms of sustainability, the current conclusions appear weaker than previous versions suggesting that the digital sector should ‘actively contribute’ to EU’s climate neutrality objectives instead of ‘make its own processes climate neutral as soon as possible’ as previously proposed. Member States’ deputy ambassadors endorsed the document without any proposed changes and European ministers will formally adopt it through a written procedure in the coming days.
Launch of Digital Services Act consultationOn 2 June, the European Commission launched the consultation for the Digital Services Act. Stakeholders will have until 8 September to weigh in on the way future platform rules are created. Additionally, the Commission has published two inception impact assessments on the DSA (also known as ‘roadmaps’) focusing on the process of the future legislation, open for feedback until 30 June. The first roadmap looks at policy options aimed at the internal market, considering a legal instrument regulating online platforms’ procedural obligations, a more comprehensive update of the e-Commerce Directive, and a regulatory oversight system supported at EU level. The second one focuses on ex-ante rules, with the Commission considering a revision of the Platform-to-Business Regulation, adoption of a horizontal framework for the collection of information from online platforms acting as gatekeepers, and the adoption of a new ex-ante regulatory framework for large platforms. Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton supported the launch of the consultation with a blogpost defining the key questions for EU policymakers at the moment. He urged interested parties to participate in the DSA public consultation. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire also welcomed the launch of the consultation, arguing that it would complement France’s efforts for the fair taxation of Big Tech. He argued for economic ex-ante rules of structuring digital platforms as well as stronger platform responsibility in terms of illegal or dangerous content and products.
Ecommerce Europe attended event on micro-targeting in the Digital Services ActOn 4 June, Ecommerce Europe attended a webinar on advertising and micro-targeting in the Digital Services Act (DSA) with MEP Tiemo Wölken (DE, S&D), rapporteur of EP JURI Committee’s own initiative report on the DSA. Mr. Wölken argued that legal yet harmful content such as micro-targeting should be banned or, at least, consumers should be given the option to opt out. He praised the Commission for including questions on content curation and micro-targeting in the DSA consultation and admitted that he expects significant resistance from Member States and shareholders. Additionally, he called for one powerful EU agency instead of several limited ones to provide oversight and ideally work on guidelines together with the stakeholders. He admitted his report does not distinguish between SMEs and large platforms and expressed his certainty that that would be addressed during the upcoming consideration of amendments and compromise amendments in JURI (end of June/beginning of July).
European Commission launched Digital Services Act public consultationInternal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton announced the launch of the public consultation on the Digital Services Act (DSA) on 2 June 2020. The Commission is also seeking input (until 30 June) on two roadmaps on the Digital Services Act, namely on ex ante regulatory instruments and on the internal market and responsibilities for online platforms. A roadmap (also called inception impact assessment) basically sets out the problem the Commission would like to address, how to address and what options it thinks are available. For what concerns the main, 3-month public consultation, the Commission is seeking input on six areas related to online platforms:
- Keeping users safe online: evidence on illegal activities online and harmful but not illegal material such as disinformation
- Upgrade to liability regime of digital intermediaries: evaluation of the current framework and need for upgrades for social media, search engines, online marketplaces and cloud storage providers
- Issues deriving from the platform’s gatekeeper power: mapping problems experienced by players on the market as well as definitions of notions such as ‘market power’ and ‘gatekeeping power’. Issues addressed include data portability, barriers to entry, terms and conditions for business relations with platforms
- Other ‘emerging’ issues: input on transparency in online advertising
- Individuals offering services through platforms: terms and conditions as well as potential health and safety risks of ride-hailing, food delivery and domestic work platforms.
- How to complete the single market for digital services: enforcement of existing rules and more efficient regulators
EP LIBE Committee discussed Draft Report on DSA and fundamental rightsOn 25 May, the European Parliament’s LIBE Committee considered its Draft Report on the Digital Services Act and fundamental rights issues posed, prepared by MEP Kris Peeters (EPP, BE). The rapporteur argued that national legislation regarding illegal online content would create a fragmented digital market and called for mandatory EU-level legislation. He highlighted the fine line between freedom of expression and illegal content and concluded that automated tools were not sophisticated enough to recognize the necessary content contextualization. Therefore, a combination of automation and transparent human oversight would be key in the future. Peeters recommended keeping the prohibition of the general monitoring obligation, the limited liability of content and the internal market clause to avoid overregulation but called for the introduction of obligations on meaningful transparency, accountability for content moderation, and a proactive approach. Finally, he suggested the creation of an independent EU body to exercise oversight on the procedural efforts of digital services providers. The S&D group generally supported the draft report but argued against the idea of platforms taking proactive measures and suggested a stronger emphasis on more non-discrimination and fundamental rights as opposed to content moderation. The Renew Europe group supported S&D and called for Member States to improve access to and the efficiency of their law and enforcement systems to ensure universal approach to illegal content offline and online, which would also be supported by the establishment of a EU system of digital services supervision. The deadline for amendments is 10 June.
EP IMCO Committee published two papers on the Digital Services ActThe European Parliament’s IMCO Committee published a summary of the Workshop on ‘E-commerce rules, fit for the digital age’ with IMCO Chair Petra de Sutter and the rapporteur for the Digital Services Act (DSA) initiative report, Alex Agius Saliba. The workshop was devoted to discussing which areas of the e-Commerce Directive were outdated and needed reforming in the DSA. Furthermore, IMCO also published a study on ‘The functioning of the Internal Market for Digital Services: responsibilities and duties of care of providers of digital services’. The paper reflects on responsibilities and duties of care of online intermediaries as set out in the e-Commerce Directive and gives recommendations for the upcoming DSA.
Ecommerce Europe co-signed a letter on the representative actions proposalA Commission non-paper on the proposed Directive on collective redress, shared by the Croatian Presidency with member states’ delegations for discussion on the next Working Party meeting on 3 June and Coreper on 10 June, was subsequently leaked. The wider business sector, including Ecommerce Europe, decided to express its concern that the document was drafted without proper discussion in trialogue and seems to push for a deal at any cost. Therefore, representatives of the European business community have sent a letter today to the Croatian Presidency, Coreper I, the EP Rapporteur (MEP Geoffroy Didier) and the cabinets of Commissioners Reynders and Jourová, urging against rushing the conclusion of trialogue negotiations. The letter argues against the Croatian Presidency’s plan to conclude discussions in Coreper by 10 June and calls for continued deliberation of the ‘many remaining issues’, referring to a previous letter sent in 2019 where the group argued for ensuring common minimum standards as opposed to maintain already existing national systems, which would result in a regulatory ‘race to the bottom’. Business organizations pledge to continue their contributions with the aim of achieving a balanced and harmonized EU system.
European Parliament political groups formulate positions on the DSAPolitical groups in the European Parliament’s Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) have laid out their positions on the Digital Services Act (DSA). The political groups agree that self-regulation is no longer sufficient to tackling illegal content but they are divided over the political solution, with disagreement focusing around the current platforms’ liability regime. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have issued more than 900 amendments to the DSA Draft Report of MEP Alex Agius Saliba (S&D, MT) laying out the IMCO Committee’s stance on the DSA. EPP’s MEP Pablo Arias Echeverría doubled down on the need for obligations for online marketplaces, arguing they should identify manufacturers and sellers of products from third countries. He wants the liability regime to be further clarified, especially regarding active and passive hosting, and ex-ante rules to include a list of “obligations/prohibitions” for gatekeeper platforms. Renew Europe’s MEP Dita Charanzová insists that “harmful” legal content should not be regulated in the DSA and recommends introducing a Good Samaritan principle of sorts. Charanzová added a section on smart contracts and wants different rules for B2B and B2C platforms. The S&D Rapporteur Saliba tabled a new amendment to emphasize his skepticism about the introduction of the Good Samaritan clause. Green MEP Alexandra Geese focused on transparency and interoperability and wants fines to be up to 5 percent of a company’s total worldwide annual turnover. ECR argued that the “notice-and-action” procedure was already sufficient and did not need revision and called for the Commission to promote better cooperation between Member States in terms of enforcement. The proposed IMCO amendments and compromise amendments will be considered respectively on 8 June and 6 July.
EP JURI Committee published its Draft Opinion on the Digital Services ActOn 18 May the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) published its Draft Opinion for the Committee for Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) with recommendations to the Commission on the Digital Services Act (DSA). The rapporteur Patrick Breyer (Greens/EFA, DE) calls for the right to use digital services anonymously to be upheld wherever it is technically possible and reasonable and urged that digital services be subjected to a specific privacy framework, limited to the extent necessary to provide and bill the use of the service. He argued that content-moderation procedures used by providers should not lead to any ex-ante control measures based on automated tools or upload-filtering to differentiate illegal content and stressed that the responsibility for enforcing the law should remain with independent judicial authorities. Finally, the draft opinion states that curating content on the basis of tracking user actions should require the user’s consent and that users of dominant social media services and messaging services should be given a right to cross-platform interaction to ensure competition and consumer choice. EP LIBE Committee presented Draft Opinion on Digital Services Act On 18 May the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) considered its Draft Opinion on the Digital Services Act: Improving the functioning of the Single Market. The rapporteur Paul Tang (S&D, NL) called for a complete ban on personalized advertisements to ensure that they would not be an incentive to infringe on privacy rights and for age verification mechanism to ensure the protection of minors online. He argued for the protection of data and digital dignity and wanted to make sure that there would be an alternative available for people who did not trust this technology and did not want to use their face or voice for recognition. He underlined the importance of fair and non-discriminatory automated decision-making algorithms to disseminate content. . He concluded by arguing for auditors for these algorithms as well as for a European supervisor who would provide platforms with guidelines according to a specific duty of care between responsibility and liability. The deadline for amendments was 19 May.
European Commission to publish new MFF, Recovery Fund and updated Work Program 2020On Wednesday 27 May, the European Commission is expected to come up with several landmark publications. The new proposal for the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2021-2027 will be published and it will be accompanied by an EU Recovery Fund aimed at the economic recovery of the EU amid the COVID-19 crisis. Apart from these two major publications, the Commission is expected to finally publish its updated Work Program 2020, as the original work plan proposed at the end of January 2020 has been significantly shaken up as a consequence of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Impact of COVID-19 on e-commerce: Ecommerce Europe sends letter to EU Commission PresidentEcommerce Europe has sent a letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, in which it shares the results of the new survey on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the e-commerce sector. The survey shows that the e-commerce sector has been a reliable factor throughout the crisis, in which confinement measures prevented many people from visiting physical stores. Ecommerce Europe finds that European economies are slowly trying to get out of the crisis, with 95% of respondents indicating that their countries have started an exit strategy. Moreover, the e-commerce sector has made a slight recovery in the last months, as fewer respondents currently expect a decrease in sales (from 73% to 39%). Finally, Ecommerce Europe stresses the importance of information sharing in the light of the upcoming recovery phase of the European economies.
EP IMCO Committee study on the assessment and reform options of e-Commerce DirectiveThe European Parliament’s Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) requested a study on the e-Commerce Directive (ECD) focusing on an assessment of the Directive and exploring options for a reform. The study finds that the definition of the Information Society Service has proven robust over time and it argues that the Internal Market clause is one of the greatest successes of the ECD. The study also finds that the country of origin principle should certainly be maintained, even though the cooperation between Member States could be strengthened. Moreover, the ECD could be extended to cover online platforms that are not established in the EU but provide services to EU customers. When it comes to liability rules, the ECD lacks sufficient safeguards to prevent violations of fundamental rights. The study further states that the revision of the ECD should be accompanied by two complementary reforms within the Digital Services Act. The first complementary reform could increase the incentives for data sharing and mobility. The second complementary reform could consist in the adoption of stricture rules for online platforms raising systemic risks to the European economy and society.
EP IMCO study on new economic opportunities for digital servicesThe European Parliament’s Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) requested a study on the new economic opportunities and challenges for digital services 20 years after the adoption of the e-Commerce Directive (ECD). The study proposes three actions to foster cross-border-e-commerce, facilitate cross-border access and improve the sustainability of digital platforms. First, the proper and timely implementation of recently adopted EU measures is essential to improve the framework in which e-commerce activities are taking place, while focusing on new and better targeted interventions to address remaining problems. Second, three different option would enable the removal of existing regulatory barriers to the functioning of the Digital Single Market for copyrighted content, through lifting geo-blocking, allowing competition law to prevail over copyright law or introducing a unitary copyright title. Third, the sustainability of e-commerce in the age of platforms relies on a holistic approach, bringing together platforms, businesses, citizens, enhanced actions against illicit trade, environmentally friendly ways to power data centres and ICT infrastructure, and tax rules updated to the challenges of the digital age.
EP JURI Committee publishes Draft Opinion on Digital Services ActThe European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) published its Draft Opinion on the Digital Services Act (DSA). In the report, the JURI Committee recommend the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) Committee to incorporate certain suggestions into its motion for resolution. The JURI Committee stresses that wherever it is technically possible and reasonable, intermediaries should be required to enable the anonymous use of their services and payment for them, since anonymity effectively prevents unauthorized data disclosure and identity theft. Moreover, the report notes that the use of personal data concerning the use of digital services should be subjected to a specific privacy framework. The DSA should also prohibit any obligation on hosting service providers or other technical intermediaries to use automated tools for content moderation. When it comes to law enforcement, the responsibility to decide on the legality of online activities and ordering hosting service providers to remove or disable access to illegal content as soon as possible should rest with independent judicial authorities.
EP IMCO Committee to discuss Digital Services Act and artificial intelligence filesThe European Parliament’s Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) will hold two meetings this week in which it will discuss the Digital Services Act (DSA) and several files concerning artificial intelligence (AI). On 18 May, the IMCO Committee will discuss Product Safety in the Single Market and the Framework of ethical aspects of AI, robotics and related technologies (agenda). On 20 May, the IMCO Committee will discuss its Draft Report on the DSA and the Civil liability regime for AI (agenda).
European Commission postpones VAT e-commerce rules by six monthsThe European Commission has decided to postpone the entry into force of two EU taxation measures to take account of the difficulties that businesses and member States are facing at the moment within the COVID-19 crisis. Firstly, the Commission decided to postpone the entry into application of the VAT Ecommerce Package by six months. This postponement will include the launch of the VAT One-Stop-Shop, the removal of the import VAT exemption for small consignments (up to € 22 euros) and the Import One-Stop-Shop (IOSS) VAT return, and the rules on marketplaces as deemed suppliers in relation to VAT. Therefore, these rules will apply as of 1 July 2021 instead of 1 January 2021, giving Member States and businesses more time to prepare for the new VAT e-commerce rules. Secondly, the Commission also postponed the EU Directive on reporting cross-border tax arrangements (DAC 6). The Directive will still apply as of 1 July 2020, but reporting deadlines for companies and deadlines for the exchange of information will be deferred by three months.
Ecommerce Europe’s call on a harmonized approach to contactless click-and-collect solutionsOn 5 May, Ecommerce Europe sent a letter to Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton calling on the European Commission to promote a harmonized approach to contactless click-and-collect solutions in the EU. This issue, which was flagged to us by one of our members, is related to the fragmentation of the Single Market caused by the fact that solutions such as contactless click-and-collect and deliveries, which are crucial in this period of COVID-19 crisis, are not allowed in all EU countries, thus creating uncertainty and placing a clear disadvantage on omnichannel retailers in certain markets. The day after we sent the letter, we were contacted by the European Commission’s DG GROW, which thanked us for the initiative and mentioned that it would be interested in bringing this matter forward and prepare for a sort of reaction to promote a harmonized approach. More information will follow in the coming weeks.
European Data Protection Board adopts new Guidelines on Consent under the GDPROn 4 May, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) has adopted and released its Guidelines 05/2020 on consent under Regulation 2016/679/EU (GDPR). In the Guidelines, the EDPB clarifies that the validity of consent provided by data subject when interacting with so-called “cookie-walls” makes consent not freely given and is thus invalid. Furthermore, on scrolling and consent, the EDPB states in the new Guidelines that scrolling does not constitute valid consent. After being inquired by Ecommerce Europe regarding the fact that there is no stakeholder consultation on the new document, the EDPB admitted it has decided not to open a public consultation on the Guidelines 05/2020 because they “only form a clarification of an already existing document, which was subject to public consultation in the past”. We will discuss with other EU trade associations the possibility for a joint statement criticizing the way of proceeding of the EDPB and calling for a consultation period. Meanwhile, members are invited to inform Ecommerce Europe of their views on the updated sections of the guidelines before Wednesday 20 May COB by sending an e-mail to Maike Jansen (maikejansen@ecommerce-europe.
EP IMCO Committee schedules new debate to discuss Draft Report on Digital Services ActAfter the extremely short meeting of the European Parliament’s Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) on 4 May, a new date for a proper debate has been found. The debate for the Draft Report on the Digital Services Act (DSA) will now take place on 20 May. During the debate of 4 May, Commission Executive Vice-President (EVP) Vestager already expressed her support for the Draft Report of MEP Saliba and she told that the Commission is looking at ex ante instruments in the field of competition policy (see below for more information).
European Commission to contract study on gatekeeping powers of digital platformsThe European Commission is to contract a €600.000 study on the gatekeeping or market-dominating power of digital platforms. The study assists the Commission’s impact assessment and aims thus to gather evidence that could feed into the upcoming Digital Services Act (DSA). The study aims to provide an analysis on the issues raised by digital platforms with strong data-driven network effects and the potential regulatory failures. The contractor will carry out studies in sex areas of concerns identified by the Commission. These areas include self-preferencing, data access, information asymmetries, digital identity services, interoperability of services and leveraging conglomerate. The Commission considers an ex ante regulatory framework to complement competition rules, and as a way of securing the contestability of digital markets as well as improved regulatory oversight. This call by the Commission is in line with the earlier remarks of EVP Vestager, who emphasized the need for a ‘new competition tool’ during last Monday’s (4 May) meeting of the European Parliament’s IMCO Committee.
European Commission started online scam sweep in context of COVID-19To continue efforts against consumer scams and misleading practices related to COVID-19, the European Commission has started a so-called sweep. In this COVID-19 sweep, Consumer Protection (CPC) authorities agreed to rapidly carry out an online investigation exercise in a coordinated and simultaneous manner of websites and advertisements to identify infringements of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive. The sweep operates in two-step action process. The first step is the high-level screening of online platforms, which is linked to the prima facie investigation of the most common consumer scams as outlined in the CPC common position, and the analysis of their occurrence on online platforms. This high-level screening also provides insight into the effectiveness of proactively taken measures by online platforms. The second step is the in-depth screening of certain offers and advertisements. The websites or platforms that are associated with irregularities will be flagged for further investigation. National e-commerce associations are invited to disseminate the information on the sweep among their members as soon as possible.
EP IMCO Committee discussed Draft IMCO Initiative Report on the Digital Services ActThe European Parliament’s Committee for Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) today discussed the Draft Report on the Digital Services Act (DSA), prepared by Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Alex Agius Saliba (S&D, MT). Saliba presented his Draft Report and emphasized the need for updated regulation as the wide spread of digital services has also led to an increase in violations via these digital services. Even though his presentation was subject to significant time constraints, he shortly introduced the “What is illegal offline, is illegal online” principle and the “Know Your Customer” principle. Moreover, he emphasized the need for regulation to prevent the distribution and sale of products that do not comply with EU safety rules, and wants future regulation to ensure that market entrance of SMEs is facilitated. MEP Dita Charanzová (RE, CZ) also presented her Draft Opinion on the DSA. Most importantly, Charanzová corrected an error in her draft report, where she had asked platforms to monitor advertisements, but she did not mean to refer to a general monitoring clause, but rather to a voluntary measure.
EP IMCO Committee published study on effective model of enforcement for Digital Services ActThe European Parliament’s Committee for Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) published a study called ‘Enforcement and cooperation between Member States: Ecommerce and the future Digital Services Act’. The study presents an overview of possible options for an effective model of enforcement for a future Digital Services Act (DSA). The study focuses on four areas of regulatory design being the failure of self-regulation in relation to platforms, the importance of correct regulatory framing, the necessity of focusing on the internal operations of platforms and finally, that the scope of the DSA should be limited but include robust transparency and enforcement measures. Furthermore, the study evaluates a range of enforcement strategies alongside barriers to Member States cooperation and effective enforcement. The study found that the enforcement model of the DSA seeks to combine the best attributes of the Consumer Protection Cooperation Regulation (CPCR) and the GDPR approach.
European Parliament published report on the reform of EU liability regimeThe European Parliament has published a report on the reform of the EU liability regime for online intermediaries, which serves as a background on the forthcoming Digital Services Act (DSA). The report focuses on the struggles of the EU liability regime to capture liability issues raised by new actors, such as search engines, social networks and online marketplaces. The forthcoming DSA package will set rules on how companies will have to policy illegal and possibly harmful content online. Against this background, the study aims to describe the current EU liability regime, highlight the implementation gaps that have been identified and present the main proposals for reforming such an online liability regime and the main policy questions that have been discussed so far.
OECD: COVID-19 increased need to reach an agreement on a global digital taxOn 4 May, Pascal Saint-Amans, Director of the Centre for Tax Policy and Administration of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has stated that the COVID-19 crisis shows an increased need “to reach an agreement on the digitalization of the tax economy under Pillar 1, and renewed impetus on Pillar 2 with rising pressure on public finances pushing for minimum taxation of multinational enterprises”. Saint-Amans said this in the context of the virtual OECD Tax Talks that are taking place today.
Poland imposes digital tax on the revenue of streaming platformsOn 29 April, the Polish Finance Minister announced that Poland will introduce a 1.5% levy on the revenue of streaming platforms including Netflix and Amazon. The introduction of this tax comes as calls mount for a broader taxation on the operation of tech firms in Europe to mitigate the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. European Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni has recently stated that the strain imposed by COVID-19 on the European economy highlights the importance of agreeing on a global framework for digital taxation. Discussions on a global digital tax will continue on 1 and 2 July in Berlin as the G20/OECD plenary session will take place. A study from the Oxford Internet Institute of the University of Oxford found that EU countries are already rolling out systems to tax income from the platform economy.
EP JURI Committee published Draft Initiative Report on the Digital Services ActOn 27 April, the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee’s (JURI) Rapporteur for the Digital Services Act (DSA) file, Tiemo Wölken (S&D, Germany), published his Draft Initiative Report (INL). The INL is the second draft report from the Parliament, after IMCO’s MEP Alex Agius Saliba published his Draft Initiative Report last week. The JURI Draft Report calls on the Commission to make the “notice-and-action” principle more effective. To achieve this, Wölken identifies two ways via which the DSA can strengthen the notice-and-action procedures: (1) laying down a clear procedural framework for these procedures and including them in the terms and conditions of content hosting platforms; and (2) ensuring that notice-and-action procedures allow for effective judicial redress. The Rapporteur prefers this approach over asking hosting platforms to become more proactive and calls on the Commission to not include any provisions to force hosts to implement any automated ex-ante content moderation tools or filters. To make judicial redress effective, the Draft Report calls for the creation of independent dispute settlement bodies in the Member States with legal experts responsible for handling disputes related to content moderation decisions. Similar to the IMCO Draft Report, Wölken also calls for the establishment of a European Agency responsible for ensuring compliance with the DSA. Finally, the DSA should include measures to limit the collection of data for the purpose of building targeted advertisement profiles and give users a certain degree of control over the content curation algorithms.
Application of VAT Ecommerce Reform might be delayedIn a recent virtual meeting of the Low Value Consignment Project Group of European Commission’s DG TAXUD, of which we are a member, it was mentioned that it is expected that the EU Member States will postpone the implementation date of the VAT Ecommerce Reform (click here for a summary of the new measures) by 9-12 months. It is also expected that the EU will allow a transition period to adjust the Members States’ IT systems until 31 December 2022, with the potential consequence of creating an EU at different speeds. Commission and Member States are discussing not only the need for a uniform EU-wide postponement but also if the postponement should include all measures or just be partial. It seems that there is a broad support among Member States for an EU-wide approach on the postponement, due to both the Coronavirus crisis and Brexit. For the postponement, the European Commission has to put forward an official proposal that then needs to be adopted by the (ECOFIN) Council at unanimity.
European associations send joint letter on Strong Customer Authentication to the EBAEcommerce Europe cosigned a letter together with organizations including EPIF, EuroCommerce, DIGITALEUROPE, Visa and Mastercard, on Strong Customer Authentication. The letter calls on the European Commission and the European Banking Authority (EBA) to consider appropriate additional measures and coordination to assist in the smooth transition to SCA in all EU Member States equally, including the possibility of a 6-month extension of the deadline.
Eurostat publishes figures showing online shopping in Europe continues to growOn 20 April, Eurostat published new figures that show a continuation of the growth in online shopping. The survey shows that 60% of people aged 16 to 74 shopped online during the year prior to the 2019 survey, compared to 56% in 2018. The highest shares were found in Denmark (84%), and Sweden (82%), followed by the Netherlands (81%) and Germany (79%). On top of this, Eurostat found that the share of enterprises that rely on e-commerce is also increasing. 17% of EU enterprises reported online sales of at least 1% of their annual turnover, which is the same as the previous two years but an increase compared to the 13% recorded in 2009. Ireland has the highest share with 36% and Austria recorded the strongest growth as the share of enterprises relying on e-commerce increased form 14% in 2017 to 20% in 2018.
European Commission to delay Digital Services Act and framework for artificial intelligenceIn the light of the COVID-19 crisis, the European Commission is currently reassessing its work program for 2020. A draft of the revised work program reveals that the Commission might postpone the publication of the Digital Services Act, originally scheduled for the last quarter of 2020, to the first quarter of 2021 as this is unlikely to have a negative impact. The legislation on artificial intelligence, that was expected by Q4 2020, is also likely to be moved to the first quarter of 2021.
EP IMCO Committee published Draft Report on product safetyOn 3 April, the European Parliaments’ Committee for Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) published a Draft Report on addressing product safety in the EU. The report calls on the Commission to evaluate the role marketplaces could play in improving the detection of unsafe products, and to propose mandatory rules on their responsibility, taking into account the special role of SMEs as part of the Digital Services Act. Online marketplaces are encouraged to work together with Rapex in the fight against unsafe products. The draft motion for resolution stresses the need to adapt product safety rules to the digital world. This means redefining the term ‘product’ to include emerging technologies such as stand-alone software and self-learning technology driven by artificial intelligence.
EP TRAN Committee issued Draft Opinion on Digital Services ActThe European Parliament’s Committee for Transport and Tourism (TRAN) has published a Draft Opinion on the Digital Services Act (DSA). The Committee calls on the Commission to clarify liability for transport and tourism platforms, and to set a uniform obligation for platforms to verify the legality of the service offered and the service provider and to act on illegal content through a legally binding Notice and Action procedure. Furthermore, the opinion stresses the need to build on the P2B Regulation to limit the dominance of market giants in the transport and tourism sector, amongst other things by establishing well defined criteria for the “size” of platforms. Finally, the opinion stresses the need to protect platform workers, to provide transparency on algorithms and to promote sustainability.
European Commission publishes EU toolbox for introduction of ‘corona apps’On 16 April, the Commission published an EU toolbox for the use of mobile applications for contact tracing and warning. To address privacy concerns, the toolbox includes a guidance to ensure full data protection standards of contact tracing apps. First of all, the application should be voluntary and the user has to give consent for every separate functionality of the application. The guidance also recommends member states to only use Bluetooth to have people’s applications interact, and to ensure that data storage is decentralized. Use of personal data will have to be minimized and the data should not be stored longer than necessary. The Commission also discourages the use of location data, as this would not be necessary for the purpose of contact tracing.
EP IMCO Committee issues Draft Opinion on ethical aspects of artificial intelligencThe European Parliament’s Committee for Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) issued a Draft Opinion on the framework of ethical aspects of artificial intelligence, robotics and related technologies. The IMCO Committee wants the framework to be applicable when consumers are subject to an algorithmic system, irrespective of where the developing entities are established. Moreover, the opinion states that future regulation should take a risk-based approach, based on the potential harm that automated-decision making process can cause to consumers. The legal obligations should be based on the risk an algorithmic system exposes a consumer to. Finally, the opinion stresses the importance of consumer protection. Algorithmic systems should be transparent and explainable, and the availability of procedures for impartial review of violations caused to consumers through the use of algorithmic systems should be ensured. The EP Committee for Transport and Tourism (TRAN) has also issued its Draft Opinion.
European Parliament adopts resolution on COVID-19 pandemicOn 17 April, the European Parliament (EP) adopted a resolution on the EU’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The EP supports the EU’s fiscal measures and liquidity support to address the pandemic. However, the EP wants a long-term recovery plan financed through the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) that includes “recovery bonds” guaranteed by the EU budget. Moreover, the EP wants the EU to establish an EU Coronavirus Solidarity Fund worth at least €50 billion.
IMCO MEP Dita Charanzová shares thoughts on the Digital Services ActThe Czech Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Dita Charanzová (IMCO, Renew Europe) has recently elaborated on her priorities when it comes to the upcoming Digital Services Act (DSA). Charanzová, who recently published her Draft Opinion for the EP Legal Affairs (JURI) Committee Report, stressed that she wants to preserve the three main elements of the e-Commerce Directive of 2000, namely the country of origin principle, the limited liability regime and the prohibition of general monitoring obligations. However, some details of the current legislation could be changed, such as the scope of who is an active platform and who is a passive one. Furthermore, on ads and online marketplaces, the MEP stressed that more work should be done on online advertisement, in line with what she wrote in her Draft Opinion, which calls on platforms to “actively monitor the advertisements shown on their sites.” On unsafe products, Charanzová is in favor of a Good Samaritan clause.
EP LIBE Committee issues Draft Opinion on IMCO’s motion for resolution on Digital Services ActThe European Parliament’s Committee for Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) has sent its Draft Opinion to the Committee for Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) on the motion for resolution the latter is preparing on the Digital Services Act. The LIBE Committee underlines that digital services and the underlying algorithms need to respect fundamental rights such as privacy, non-discrimination and the freedom of speech and information, and therefore calls on the European Commission to implement an obligation of transparency and explainability of algorithms. Furthermore, the LIBE Committee wants digital dignity to be ensured by having strong legislation in place to protect privacy and a reasonable duty of care.
European Commission to publish revised work program by the end of AprilThe European Commission is expected to publish a revised Work Program for 2020 by the end of April. The COVID-19 crisis has occupied the Commission’s agenda for the last weeks and the crisis seem not be over soon. Therefore, some of the initiatives will be postponed. The Digital Services Act is supposed to remain high on the agenda as digital services are expected to play an important role in upcoming exit strategies of Member States. The deadline for the consultation on Artificial Intelligence might be extended to give smaller companies more time to reply as they have been occupied with dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.
Spain suspends Right of Withdrawal periodLast week, Ecommerce Europe’s Spanish member Adigital informed us that Spain decided to suspend the 14-day period for consumers to withdraw from distance contracts. Ecommerce Europe is aware that in some other countries the majority of webshops (on their initiative) are offering an extension of the right of withdrawal, by giving consumers the possibility of returning the products within 30 to 60 days, in order to take into account travel restrictions imposed by the lockdown. Members are invited to notify Ecommerce Europe if their governments decided to suspend the period for the right of withdrawal via e-mail.
EP IMCO Committee and Commissioner Reynders to discuss consumer protection during COVID-19 crisisToday 14 April, the European Parliament’s Committee for Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) holds and extraordinary remote committee meeting in which it will exchange views with the European Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders. Members of the European Parliament are expected to assess the actions by EU and national authorities to tackle corona-related scams on consumers. During the COVID-19 crisis, consumer protection authorities observe a strong increase in misleading claims and unreasonably high prices in digital commerce.
COVID-19 outbreak will influence the work on the Digital Services ActThe Maltese Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Alex Agius Saliba, Rapporteur for the Digital Services Act (DSA) in the Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) Committee, expects the COVID-19 outbreak to impact the content of the DSA. Saliba said the Coronavirus crisis has shown existing problems such as fake news and unsafe products. The vote in the IMCO committee on the initiative report has been postponed from July to September, which means newly emerged problems can be incorporated. The main focus of IMCO Committee for the DSA Initiative Report will be on the revision of the e-Commerce Directive (ECD). Saliba mentioned that the ECD includes elements that are still totally relevant today, such as the country of origin principle. Saliba said that they would not touch the limited liability regime and the prohibition of general monitoring principle, but added that clarifications are needed. He will not add removal deadlines for illegal content either but will ask the Commission to define what “expeditiously” means. In the meanwhile, the parliamentary committee for Transport and Tourism (TRAN) has issued its draft opinion on the DSA.
Collective Redress file delayed due to COVID-19The trialogues for the Directive on the representative actions for the protection of the collective interests of consumers have been delayed. The trialogue, originally planned for 1 April, has been cancelled due the COVID-19 outbreak. Before the outbreak, the plan was to hold the trialogue meetings during the first half of 2020 in order to reach an agreement by June 2020. At this point in time, knowing the whole of Europe is in lockdown, it will be hard for the Croatian Presidency of the Council to finish this file before their presidency ends. This means that the file would pass to the upcoming German Presidency, due to start in July 2020. The Germans are strongly opposing the current EU proposal, fearing it will weaken the German redress system. Also, Germany and Austria abstained from the final vote on the Council’s general approach. If the file comes under the German Presidency, it will likely be delayed even longer and could push the negotiations to the Portuguese Presidency in 2021.
European Commission opens public consultation on GDPROn 1 April, the European Commission launched a public consultation on the report on the application of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), two years after its entry into force. The report will include the issue of international transfer of personal data to third countries (Chapter V of GDPR) and the cooperation and consistency mechanism between national data and protection authorities (Chapter VII of GDPR). The consultation is open until 29 April and Ecommerce Europe will prepare a draft contribution based on the consolidated feedback received from members so far and which had been already shared with the Commission’s Expert Group on the application of GDPR, of which we are an active member. Nevertheless, members are invited to share with us any new eventual issues they/their members encountered in the application of the GDPR by 20 April 2020 COB via e-mail to Maike Jansen (maikejansen@ecommerce-europe.
European Commission launches Coronavirus disinformation webpage on COVID-19In the fight against the spread of disinformation during the COVID-19 outbreak, the European Commission has launched a website on which it advises citizens on how to deal with misinformation during the pandemic. The Commission first held meetings with online platforms to tackle the spread of fake news, but now stepped up actions by launching a dedicated website. Part of the website is a webpage on online scams used when people are buying products online
COVID-19 outbreak shakes up European Commission’s digital agendaSince outbreak of COVID-19, the European Commission has devoted almost all of its attention to handling the crisis and its economic consequences. This means that the many digital initiatives that were planned for 2020, have become less prominent on the political agenda. Initiatives like the consultation on the Digital Services Act (DSA), which was planned for end March, are technically ready to be published, but still need the political approval of European Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton. Even though the Commission has not notified any official delays yet, the DSA package might be slightly delayed. When it comes to Artificial Intelligence, the consultation on the White Paper is still open until 31 May and the first hard laws are still planned to be published by the end of the year. On data, the Commission was planning to present a legislative framework for data spaces by the end of 2020 and a new Data Act in 2021. The public consultation on the Commission’s Data Strategy is still open until 31 May. In general, stakeholders would like to see extended deadlines due to COVID-19. Finally, the Commission’s two-year evaluation of the General Data Protection Regulation was scheduled for 22 April, but this date has been canceled. It not yet known what the new data for this review will be.Since outbreak of COVID-19, the European Commission has devoted almost all of its attention to handling the crisis and its economic consequences. This means that the many digital initiatives that were planned for 2020, have become less prominent on the political agenda. Initiatives like the consultation on the Digital Services Act (DSA), which was planned for end March, are technically ready to be published, but still need the political approval of European Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton. Even though the Commission has not notified any official delays yet, the DSA package might be slightly delayed. When it comes to Artificial Intelligence, the consultation on the White Paper is still open until 31 May and the first hard laws are still planned to be published by the end of the year. On data, the Commission was planning to present a legislative framework for data spaces by the end of 2020 and a new Data Act in 2021. The public consultation on the Commission’s Data Strategy is still open until 31 May. In general, stakeholders would like to see extended deadlines due to COVID-19. Finally, the Commission’s two-year evaluation of the General Data Protection Regulation was scheduled for 22 April, but this date has been canceled. It not yet known what the new data for this review will be.
Ecommerce Europe writes to Commission President von der LeyenFollowing the letter Ecommerce Europe had sent to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on the important role e-commerce is playing in the current crisis caused by the Coronavirus outbreak, Ecommerce Europe wrote a second letter to bring to her attention another important issue we, together with other EU organizations, are currently facing in relation to feedback-gathering to feed the legislative work of the EU Institutions. The letter basically calls on the European Commission to postpone upcoming public consultations and extend the deadline of the ongoing ones. A reasonable delay would allow Ecommerce Europe and its members to provide policymakers with more valuable feedback and a better representation of the European e-commerce industry. More information can be found in the letter (not for publication).
ECR Group’s representatives comment on EU Green Deal and COVID-19European Parliament’s Budget Committee Chairman, Johan Van Overtveldt (ECR, Belgium) wrote in a statement that the Commission should produce a new proposal for the 2021-2027 EU budget given the coronavirus pandemic, and it should “take account of the new challenges and needs deriving from a post-corona world,” adding that the crisis “should not serve as an argument for a smaller budget.” His own ECR group co-member, Derk Jan Eppink (the Netherlands), had more specific ideas and told the Parliament’s plenary on behalf of his group that the Commission should “radically restructure” its proposal and that money now assigned to climate policy “has to be mobilized to address the corona pandemic.”
Ecommerce Europe presents results of second survey on impact COVID-19 on e-commerceOn 27 March, Ecommerce Europe published its second survey on the impact of COVID-19 on the e-commerce sector. The survey consulted national e-commerce associations about the general situation in their countries with regards to the COVID-19 outbreak and the impact on the functioning of e-commerce. The results show that 93% of all respondents are in a full or partial lockdown, meaning that citizens in these countries can only go out with some or very heavy restrictions. However, online shops are still allowed to maintain their activity. More information can be found in the survey or in the news article.
EP IMCO letter to EU Commission: Internal Market as the solution of the COVID-19 crisisToday MEP Petra de Sutter, Chair of the Internal Market (IMCO) Committee of the European Parliament, wrote a letter addressed to Commission Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton, Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders and the Croatian Minister of Economy Darko Horvat about the need of the Internal Market as the solution of the Coronavirus crisis and to protect Europe’s consumers. The letter underlines how a scattered and diverging approach between Member States would not be the right response to the COVID-19 outbreak, and calls for an immediate coordinated approach. In particular, the letter stresses that unilateral restrictions to the free movement of goods adopted by Member States could jeopardize the supply and distribution of goods and dramatically affect Europe’s capacity to manage the current crisis. Free movement of goods is thus indispensable in order to prevent the shortage and to improve cooperation at EU level. More information, including the letter, can be found here.
EU watchdog launched probe into fake coronavirus goodsThe EU anti-fraud agency OLAF has started an inquiry into imports of fake goods that are related to the coronavirus. It concerns fake goods such as masks, medical devices, disinfectants, sanitizers and test kits. The anti-fraud office claims it has evidence that “counterfeit products enter Europe through online sales and are brought into our homes via postal or courier services”. OLAF stresses that preventing these fake products from entering the European market is essential to protect our health and fight effectively against the coronavirus.
P2B regulation: Status of the ranking transparency guidelinesIn the context of the Platform-to-Business Regulation (EU) 2019/1150, the European Commission is tasked with producing guidelines to help online intermediation services and online search engines understand their obligations to set out, in their terms and conditions, the main parameters determining ranking and the reasons for their relative importance. Ecommerce Europe participated in the workshops organized by the Commission in the previous months. These workshops were supposed to gather stakeholders’ feedback on the upcoming guidelines. The Commission will still continue to process the stakeholders’ feedback in order to finalize the guidelines before they will be published by the end of April 2020, only a couple of months prior to the entering into application of the Regulation, scheduled for 12 July 2020. Ecommerce Europe will continue providing feedback accordingly. More information, including minutes of the previous workshops, can be found on the Commission’s website here.
Universal Postal Union publishes new E-commerce GuideThe Universal Postal Union has published a new E-commerce Guide that emphasizes the important of mobile technology in e-commerce growth. According to the guide, mobile online shopping has grown exponentially since UPU’s Postal E-Services Survey in 2012. In the US, 79% of mobile phone users have bought online using their phone in the last six months. The Guide charts expansion of mobile phone applications among postal operators globally. Furthermore, the Guide sets out the UPU’s capacity building and technical assistance to Posts to help them succeed in the e-commerce market.
European Court of Auditors examines EU’s efforts to tackle spread of disinformationOn 17 March, the European Court of Auditors (ECA) has started an audit to examine the Union’s efforts to fight the spread of verifiably false or misleading information for the purposes of economic gain or intentionally deceiving the public. The audit will examine the EU action plan against disinformation looking at its relevance, the results achieved and its accountability framework. The European External Action Service (EEAS) StratCom task forces’ capacity to tackle disinformation will be examined as well. Baudilio Tomé Muguruza, the ECA Member leading the audit stated that “EU citizens must know whether the EU Action Plan against disinformation is effective”.
Launch of Ecommerce Europe Info Center on coronavirus and e-commerceOn 16 March, Ecommerce Europe has launched an Info Center on the impact of the corona virus COVID-19 on the e-commerce sector in Europe. The Info Center, which is publicly accessible at this website, displays an overview of EU information and initiatives as well relevant publications from national e-commerce associations and companies across the EU, to show how the different members are dealing with the impact of the coronavirus on online retail. This website will be updated by the Brussels Secretariat on a regular basis, depending on the amount of publications our members will share with us. In case you would like to contribute and for any questions, please reach out to Maike Jansen at maikejansen@ecommerce-europe.
European Commission publishes new package of strategies
On 10 and 11 March, the European Commission published several long-term strategies and action plans that will direct the work the executive will do in its mandate 2019-2024. The Commission published the new Industrial Strategy for Europe, an SME Strategy, a Report on barriers to the Single Market, an Action Plan for better implementation and enforcement of single market rules and, a new Circular Economy Action Plan. These plans will not only steer Europe’s transition to a more ecological and digital society but should also ensure the EU’s economic sovereignty and strategic autonomy. Read the full report by Ecommerce Europe here.
European Commission publishes study on the application of Interchange Fees Regulation
The European Commission published last week a study commissioned to an external contactor on the application of the Interchange Fees Regulation (“IFR”) for card-based payment transactions. The Commission’s press release states that according to the study, the main objectives of the Regulation have been achieved, as the interchange fees for consumer cards have decreased by 35% between 2015 and 2017 and that this decrease has resulted in lower charges for retailers as well as benefits to consumers through lower retail prices. These results have been contested by some merchant representatives because it fails to encompass recent evolution, notably of scheme fees, between 2017 and 2019. The Commission will take this study into consideration, among other sources, and will submit a report on the application of the Regulation to the European Parliament and to the Council in June 2020.
EP IMCO Committee publishes draft opinion on AI in education, culture and the audiovisual sectorThe Committee for Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) of the European Parliament has issued its Draft Opinion for the Committee on Culture and Education (CULT), in which it calls on the CULT Committee to incorporate some changes into its report. The IMCO Committee underlines the unreliability of the current automated means of removing illegal content from online platforms on which audiovisual content is shared. It therefore wants a ban on generalized moderation and automated content filters. Moreover, the committee calls for recommendation algorithms and personalized marketing to be transparent in order to give consumers insights into these processes and ensure that these personalized services are not discriminatory. Finally, the IMCO Committee stresses the need to guarantee and properly implement the right of users to opt out from recommended and personalized services.
EP Committee on Culture and Education releases its opinion on the Digital Services ActThe European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) released its Draft Opinion for the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection on the law on digital services (DSA). The CULT Committee considers it necessary to adopt uniform, Union-wide rules to combat hatred and disinformation and to protect children and youth as well as rules governing online advertising and fair e-commerce. It also calls on platform operators not only to immediately delete illegal content after positive identification, but also to continuously transmit it to the law enforcement authorities for further prosecution. The CULT Committee emphasizes that open, network and technology-neutral access to the internet must be particularly protected by law.
New US law could make e-commerce marketplaces liable for counterfeits sold on their platformsA new US bill, the Shop Safe Act 2020, unveiled on 2 March, outlines steps that e-commerce platforms would have to take to prevent the sale of counterfeits third-party sellers sold on their platforms. The bill proposes e-commerce companies that fail to take these steps can be held liable for the sale of counterfeits, a move that would shift burden onto the marketplaces. In January, the US Department of Homeland Security released a report saying e-commerce companies need to do more to fight fake goods on their sites in order to protect American consumers and businesses. More information can be found here.
Ecommerce Europe joined industry initiative on mandatory product information and digital meansEcommerce Europe cosigned a letter, dated 3 March 2020, together with other organizations representing a broad number of consumer-facing industry sectors to draw the European Commission’s attention to the opportunities that digitalization can bring to the European Union, notably regarding mandatory product information, for the joint benefit of citizens and businesses across the EU. The letter calls for further action and leadership from the European Commission to make Europe fit for the digital age. The letter also encourages the Commission to establish a European Stakeholders Forum for Digital Consumer Information to facilitate the regular exchange of views and best practices and the development of guiding principles for the digitalization of consumer and product information. Moreover, the Commission is asked to investigate where opportunities exist for digital means as a legally recognized option to provide mandatory product information and adapt the relevant EU regulatory framework including general product and consumer legislations. More information can be found in the letter.
EP ECON Committee published final report on competition policyOn 25 February, the European Parliament Committee for Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) has published its Annual Report 2019 on Competition Policy. The report focuses on six topics being the role of competition law in globalized markets, adapting competition to the digital age, effectiveness of competition policy instruments, competition rules supporting the European Green Deal, sectoral policies and a better focus on citizens through the European Parliament. The ECON Committee wants the Commission to focus on strategic sectors in its industrial strategy. When it comes to digitization the committee want the Commission to take data into consideration when assessing mergers. The report also raises the question of gatekeepers, systemic operators and self-preferencing. Finally, the committee wants the Commission to assess more demanding data access regimes and to unbundle search engines from their service activities.
European Commission considers five policy options for Digital Services ActThe European Commission is considering five policy options to regulate online platforms, according to EU press. Option 1 is enforcement and would focus on the application of the Platform-to-Business Regulation, the enforcement of the e-Commerce Directive (ECD) and other codes of conduct. Option 2 also focuses on enforcement but would add legislation regulating platforms’ responsibilities and establish mandatory procedures. Option 3 would be a wider legal intervention that would update and modernize the ECD whilst maintaining the country of origin principle, the liability regime and the prohibition of general monitoring obligations. Option 4 would entail the creation of an effective regulatory oversight system with transparency obligations and cooperation schemes across EU member states. Finally, option 5 is ex ante regulatory intervention that would go hand in hand with competition law. This intervention would focus on horizontal issues such as data sharing, interoperability and digital identity services of platforms with significant market power. These options can be cumulative. The consultation on the DSA, expected to be published by the end of March, will focus on several areas: the completion of the Digital Single Market, online safety of users, the upgrade in the liability regime of digital services, the framing of market power of online platforms, the degree of transparency and needed regulatory oversight, innovation for digital services and, finally, the emerging challenges in the global digital economy. The DSA’s impact assessment is expected in the second half of 2020.
Opening up of the Universal Postal Union decided in principleDuring the Universal Postal Union (UPU) Council of Administration (CA) plenary, the potential opening up of the UPU to wider postal stakeholders was on the agenda. The CA decided in principle the UPU will have to open up to wider stakeholders. The UPU created a taskforce in October 2019 that conducted a comprehensive report, including the questionnaires of four important stakeholder groups (governments, regulators, designated operations, wider stakeholders). All four groups indicated that they are in favor of the opening up of the UPU to wider stakeholders. This decision in principle still leaves some questions unanswered. The what, how and when of the opening up of the UPU will only be answered at the 27th UPU Congress that takes place in August 2020.
Reynders states that European Commission will address safety in online salesCommissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, stated that the European Commission is planning to address the safety in online sales in the new Consumer Agenda and in the revision of the General Product Safety Directive. Reynders said this as a response to last week’s report stating that two-thirds of products bought from popular online shops does not comply with EU safety rules. Reynders will present the new Consumer Agenda at the end of this year. Reynders also stated that the Commission is “already working on the evaluation and revision of the General Product Safety Directive, which will assess, among others, product safety challenges related to online sales”.
EDPB adopts its contribution to the evaluation of the GDPR under Article 97On 18 February, the European Data Protection Board adopted its contribution to the evaluation of the GDPR under Article 97. The EDPB states that the application of the GDPR in this first year and a half has been successful and that GDPR has strengthened data protection as a fundamental right and harmonized the interpretation of data protection principles. The EDPB emphasizes that the GDPR is a technologically neutral framework designed to be comprehensive and to foster innovation as well as that it is fully applicable to emerging technologies. In conclusion, the EDPB takes a positive view of the implementation of the GDPR and is of the opinion that it is premature to revise the legislative text at this point in time. Rather than revising the GDPR itself, the EDPB calls upon the EU legislators, in particular the European Commission, to intensify efforts towards the adoption of an ePrivacy Regulation to complete the EU framework for data protection and confidentiality of communications.
EDPS warns: ‘Prepare for all eventualities’ on UK-EU data transfersThe European Data Protection Supervisor warned that securing an EU-UK adequacy agreement on post-Brexit data transfers could face a series of obstacles. For that reason, the EDPS recommends that the Union takes steps to prepare for all eventualities, including where the adequacy decision(s) could not be adopted within the transition period, where no adequacy decision would be adopted at all, or where it would be adopted only in relation to some areas. The steps to adopt an adequacy agreement involve a period of assessment followed by a draft decision by the Commission, an opinion by the European Data Protection Board and a final approval by member states as well as the College of Commissioners. Read more here.
Croatian Presidency tries to bring ePrivacy closer to GDPR (with limitations)
On 21 February 2020, the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the EU published a revised part of theProposal for the Regulation on ePrivacy focusing on article 6 (permitted processing of electronic communications data) and article 8 (protection of end-users’ terminal equipment information). The Presidency has introduced a possibility to process metadata for legitimate interests in art. 6b(1)(e), something Ecommerce Europe has been supporting. This is a positive development, although this legal ground is accompanied by a number of conditions and safeguards that would de facto limit the possibility of profiling under the legal ground of legitimate interest. In fact, the end-user’s interests shall be deemed to override the interests of the service provider if the provider uses the electronic communications metadata to determine the nature and characteristics of the end-user or to build an individual profile of the end-user, in other words if the provider performs profiling of the end-user. A parallel can be drawn for legitimate interest in art. 8(1)(g), where the possibility of performing profiling would be again limited under the ground of legitimate interest. Moreover, prior to any use of processing or storage facilities in, or collection of information from the end-user’s terminal equipment, the service provider would have to carry out an impact assessment of the use of the processing and storage capabilities or the collection of information from the end-users’ terminal equipment and of the envisaged processing on the confidentiality of communications and the privacy of end-users. The Presidency’s proposal will be under discussion during the next Council’s Telecommunications working party on 5 March and 12 March.
European Commission’s new leaked draft on the Circular Economy Action Plan
On 17 February, a new draft version of the Circular Economy Action Plan was leaked. In the draft, the European Commission outlines four key elements. The first is more ambitious targets and a focus on new waste streams. The Commission will put forward waste reduction targets for more complex streams as part of a broader set of measures on waste prevention. Furthermore, the Commission will propose harmonization of separate waste collection systems, taking into account regional and local conditions. The second element is the sustainable product framework. Sustainability principles and horizontal rules will be introduced in a legislative proposal, complementary to the Ecodesign Directive. Thirdly, the new action plan will have a strong focus on electronics, as it becomes the ‘priority sector’ for the right to repair for consumers. This will be done via the Circular Electronics Initiative. Finally, the Commission will present a Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability strengthening the waste interface, chemicals, products and synergies with the circular economy.
European Commission’s new leaked draft on the Circular Economy Action Plan
On 17 February, a new draft version of the Circular Economy Action Plan was leaked. In the draft, the European Commission outlines four key elements. The first is more ambitious targets and a focus on new waste streams. The Commission will put forward waste reduction targets for more complex streams as part of a broader set of measures on waste prevention. Furthermore, the Commission will propose harmonization of separate waste collection systems, taking into account regional and local conditions. The second element is the sustainable product framework. Sustainability principles and horizontal rules will be introduced in a legislative proposal, complementary to the Ecodesign Directive. Thirdly, the new action plan will have a strong focus on electronics, as it becomes the ‘priority sector’ for the right to repair for consumers. This will be done via the Circular Electronics Initiative. Finally, the Commission will present a Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability strengthening the waste interface, chemicals, products and synergies with the circular economy.
Communication on a European strategy for Data published by European Commission
On 19 February, the European Commission published its European Strategy for data, outlining a strategy for policy measures and investments to keep the EU at the forefront of the data-agile economy, while respecting and promoting European fundamental values. The Commission wants to ”create a single European data space – a genuine single market for data, open to data from across the world – where personal as well as non-personal data, including sensitive business data, are secure and businesses also have easy access to an almost infinite amount of high-quality industrial data, boosting growth and creating value”. Key legislative action includes an enabling legislative framework for the governance of common European data spaces (Q4 2020) and a ‘Data Act’ (2021). The Commission has launched a public consultation on how to achieve this. The consultation is available here and is open for feedback until 19 May 2020.
White Paper on Artificial Intelligence and report on safety and liability implications of new technologies
On 19 February, the European Commission published a White Paper on Artificial Intelligence (AI) called ‘A European approach to excellence and trust’. The White Paper present the regulatory framework for AI to establish an ‘Ecosystem of Trust’. The regulatory framework will focus on AI as composing of ”data” and ”algorithms”. However, as the EU does not want to create excessive burden on SMEs, the regulatory framework has to take a risk-based approach, differentiating between different AI applications. The Commission also started a public consultation on the future regulatory framework for AI. The consultation is available here and open for feedback until 19 May 2020. On the same day, the Commission published a report on the safety and liability implications of AI, the Internet of Things and robotics. When it comes to safety, main problems arising from new technologies relate to connectivity, autonomy of AI, self-learning features, mental risks, data dependency, opacity, software and complex value-chains. On liability, main difficulties emerge due to the complexity of products, services and the value-chain and autonomy. The definition of a product is not as clear-cut and liability rules could be revisited as it is unclear who is liable if autonomous AI applications make decision that are not pre-defined.
New version of EU Data Strategy has leaked
On 14 February, a new version the EU Data Strategy has leaked. The goal of the data strategy remains unchanged in the new leak, as the European Commission still wants to ensure that more data will become available for the economy and society, while contributing to improved data sovereignty in Europe, and in compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation. The official document is expected to be published on 19 February and will be accompanied by a comprehensive consultation. The document still focuses on cross-sectoral measures for data access and use, but the new leak is more elaborate on sector-specific measures in transport, health care, finance and science. The relations of actors in the data-agile economy will regulated in the Data Act in 2021. Interesting to note is that Commissioner Thierry Breton recently declared to French press that ,,the AI White Paper will be presented as a chapter of the EU Data Strategy” (read more here, in French).
Thierry Breton thinks Europe can win global battle for industrial data
The European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, stated that Europe might have lost the battle to create digital ”champions” that own personal data, but that there are possibilities for Europe to become the global leader when it comes to industrial data. The chances to become dominant in the next period of the global digital transformation would lay in the harvesting, management and analysis of data from factories, transport, energy and healthcare. According to Breton, the world is looking at Europe as it is the world?s top industrial continent that harbors the bulk of the industrial value chain, from large groups to small and medium-sized enterprises. On 19 February, the Commission will publish its new data strategy, focusing on tighter regulations, infrastructure investment and sector-specific strategies. More information can also be found here.
UPU High-Level Forum: ,,We are open to dialogue”
Delivering a powerful, but also personal message to the private sector representatives attending the High-Level Forum on wider postal engagement of 13 February, the Director General of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), Bishar A. Hussein told them: ,,For years, we have kept you out of [the UPU] building.” He said it was time for change. The UPU Chief said the postal sector faced radical and profound changes: liberalization, privatization and the tremendous surge in e-commerce are transforming the sector and introducing a range of new players involved in the supply chain and final delivery. He said the UPU needed to produce a blueprint for drawing these new postal players, while maintaining the duty to provide a postal service to everyone on this planet (known as the Universal Service Obligation or USO). Mr. Hussein reiterated the need for the postal sector to be ”competitive, innovative and prosperous.” A Task Force has been set up to propose the way forward and outline steps enabling the UPU to deepen private sector engagement. Task Force recommendations are to be fed into the strategy developed for the next four years of the UPU’s business cycle. The strategy is to be agreed by member countries at the 27th Universal Postal Congress in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, 10-28 August. Ecommerce Europe’s Walter Trezek, who is also sitting as Chair of the UPU Consultative Committee, the body responsible for wider sector engagement, also spoke during the opening session and said the UPU was finding solutions for the moving forward and said the postal organization stood for both universality and unity. More information on the Forum can be found here, here and here.
Europe urges G20 to make global digital tax priority of 2020
The European Commission has expressed it wants the G20 to make the establishment of a global digital taxation system a top priority in 2020. The global tax rules should be imposed on tech giants such as Google, Amazon and Facebook. The finance ministers of the world’s 20 top economies will meet on 22 and 23 February in Riyadh. During this meeting, one of the agenda items will be the work of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on a global digital tax regime. The Commission thinks it should be given priority to solve problems such as Base Erosion and Profit Shifting. The OECD wants to agree on technical issues of a tax system in July and a full agreement by the end of the year, in order to prevent international trade relations to deteriorate.
Leaked draft Communication ‘Europe fit for the digital age’Ecommerce Europe has acquired a draft version of the upcoming European Commission’s Communication on a ‘Europe fit for the digital age’, which can be found here in its entirety. It will be accompanied by the Commission’s AI White Paper and the Data Strategy. The strategy is currently based on four pillars:
- Technology that works for people;
- A fair and competitive digital economy;
- A digital and sustainable society;
- International dimension.
Prime Minister Johnson: UK will diverge from EU data protection rulesOn 3 February, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the UK is planning on diverging from EU data protection rules and will introduce their own ‘sovereign’ rules on data protection. This statement was done despite the EU claiming that the UK should respect EU data protection regulation. The European Commission has previously announced it will start an assessment for an adequacy agreement between the EU and the UK as of 1 February. An adequacy agreement requires an assessment by the Commission, a draft decision, an opinion by the European Data Protection Board and finally approval by the Member States and College of Commissioners.
OECD organizes webcast on Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 proposals of digital taxation systemThe Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) organizes a webcast with experts on the analysis and impact assessment of the pillar 1 and pillar 2 proposals for the establishment of an international digital taxation system. Pillar 1 concerns future rules establishing how digital activities that are undertaken without physical presence will be taxed. Pillar 2 is meant to ensure that only a minimum level of taxation is introduced. Experts from the OECD?s Centre for Tax Policy and Administration and Economics Department will reflect on the revenue and investment effects of the proposals. Registrations are open until 13 February.
EDPB’s annual survey on its activities: deadline extendedThe European Data Protection Board (EDPB) launched a short survey as part of the annual review of its activities under article 71 of the General Data Protection Regulation. The questions concern the practical application of the guidelines, recommendations, best practices adopted by the EDPB and, if applicable, binding decisions adopted as part of the EDPB’s dispute resolution process. The deadline to complete the stakeholder survey has been extended until Friday 21 February, 18.00 CET. Ecommerce Europe, which is replying to the relevant EDPB consultations on GDPR, will provide a contribution to the survey. The survey seeks to gather views of individual entities (companies and non-profits) and sectoral organisations (trade associations) across various industries. We would be thankful if you could share the consultation with your members for their direct input.
Ecommerce Europe calls on members to share the survey on the Geo-blocking RegulationEcommerce Europe recently launched a survey on the Geo-blocking Regulation (EU) 2018/302. We are now kindly requesting the support of National Associations in disseminating the survey among their company members. Company Members wishing to contribute to the survey can do so directly. The objective of the survey is to understand the impact that the Geo-blocking Regulation has had on e-commerce businesses since its application. The target is B2C digital retailers selling goods and/or services and the deadline is 25 February. The available languages are English, Danish, German, French, Italian, Dutch and Greek. Please note that the survey is not publicly available, so please do not publish the link on social media / websites, as we want to keep the survey within the Ecommerce Europe membership network.
European Commission Work Program 2020Last Wednesday, the European Commission published its Work Program for 2020. Ecommerce Europe has made an analysis of the work program, please find the main points outlined below. During the first quarter of 2020, the Commission will not only publish a Strategy for Europe – Fit for the Digital Age, but it will also put forward a White Paper on Artificial Intelligence (AI) (of which we have already seen a leak) and a Circular Economy Action Plan (of which we also obtained a leaked version). In the second quarter the Commission will publish a report on the application of the GDPR and update the Digital Education Action Plan to improve digital literacy and investment. In the third quarter, the Commission will present an Action Plan on FinTech including a Strategy on an integrated EU Payments Market, an initiative on Crypto Assets and a legislative proposal on a Customs Single Window. Finally, in the last quarter of 2020, the Commission will give a legislative follow-up of the White Paper on AI, including safety, liability, fundamental rights and data. Moreover, the Commission will propose a new Digital Services Act that reinforces the single market for digital services and helps smaller businesses with the legal clarity and a level playing field. The Commission will also prose a non-legislative Consumers Agenda in this period. Finally, in the field of taxation, the European Commission considers new rules on tax evasion and digital taxation. This includes a ,,Communication on Business Taxation for the 21st century” and an action plan to fight tax evasion and make taxation simple and easy in the second quarter of 2020.
EU Industrial Strategy has been leakedOn 28 January, a draft version of the EU Industrial Strategy has been leaked from the European Commission. The official strategy is expected to be published in March. The Industrial Strategy contains the building blocks for a transition to a sustainable and digital EU industry. In the field of sustainability, the strategy mentions the Circular Economy Action Plan (content from leaked version below). The Ecommerce Europe sustainability working group follows this with special attention. In the field of digital policy, the strategy announces that the 2016 Digitizing European Industry initiative will be reviewed. Furthermore, the Commission will evaluate and review EU competition rules, ensuring that competition rules allow European companies to compete globally. Finally, as already mentioned in the work program, the Commission will propose a regulatory framework on AI, that promotes innovation through AI, whilst ensuring that the fundamental values of the EU are respected.
EU Circular Economy Action Plan has leakedOn 28 January, Ecommerce Europe obtained a leaked version of the Commission’s Circular Economy Action Plan, which is originally planned for publication in March 2020. The Action Plan explains the Commission’s circular economy ambitions and outlines the regulatory actions planned to achieve them. On production and consumption, the Commission plans to introduce a Sustainable Product Framework in 2021 targeting priority products with high impact. Of particular relevance for the e-Commerce sector will be the new ”Right to Repair” in EU Consumer law, which is already expected for 2020 and sets out to assure consumers of the availability of spare parts and repair manuals, high-quality and affordable repair services, easiness to disassemble product components and access to product consumables. In terms of waste, the Commissions aims to review the Packaging and Packaging waste Directive and assess the feasibility of establishing an EU harmonized model for separate collection of waste. To enable circularity in value chains or specific sectors, the Commission will come with an EU Strategy for textiles and look at an EU-wide reward system to return or sell back. Regarding green mobility, a new regulatory framework setting sustainability requirements for rechargeable batteries in electromobility will be adopted. Finally, the Action Plan stresses the importance of the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform and the intention to come with measures to improve the performance of EPR schemes.
Ecommerce Europe participated in the European Consumer Summit 2020Ecommerce Europe attended the European Consumer Summit, which took place in Brussels on 30-31 January. The Summit brings together up to 500 stakeholders involved in shaping the future EU’s consumer policy. Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders, who opened the event, explained that, by the end of this year, the Commission will publish a new Consumer Agenda. The focus would be not just on protecting consumers but also empowering them. This would include ensuring that the proposed Collective Redress Directive will be passed quickly, and Reynders is working hard to have it adopted by mid-2020. Overall, the Commission’s priorities in this space will be ”human-centric” digitalization and addressing climate change. Reynders added that we could expect a focus on online fairness. He noted that every consumer who goes into a physical shop will receive the same products and prices, but different consumers may be offered different prices and even service levels when transacting online. The Commission’s starting point, he said, is that consumers should enjoy at least the same level of protection when shopping online as offline. The Commission will also work on an update to the General Product Safety Directive to deal with emerging technologies and the increase of online shopping. This would be discussed further in the new Commission’s AI White Paper. With regards to the Green Deal, the focus would, he said, be on empowering consumers who want to make more sustainable choices and to fight climate change. The Commission will look at tougher rules on false environmental claims, encouraging longer lifespans for consumer products, combatting planned obsolescence of products and encouraging their re-use.
France’s privacy watchdog launched public consultation on its draft Recommendation on cookiesCNIL, France’s data protection authority, has recently published a draft recommendation concerning practical methods of obtaining Internet users? consent for operators using online tracking tools. The draft guidelines are part of an action plan to help better protect users’ privacy against the unjustified use of their data. CNIL declared that online profiling for advertising purposes ”can be massive and perceived as intrusive”. CNIL mentioned it has received numerous individual and collective complaints relating to online marketing and stated that its mission is to deal with these complaints and, more generally, to ensure the proper application of the legal texts by combining professional support tools (such as its guidelines and the draft recommendation) and the recourse, if necessary, to its powers of investigation. Companies have until 25 February 2020 to comment on the draft, which will then be finalized and lead to a six-month period for companies to adapt to the new measures. More information (in French) can be found here.
Ecommerce Europe contributed to a consultation on the Roadmap for the Circular Economy Action PlanOn 20 January, Ecommerce Europe contributed to a consultation of the Roadmap of the Circular Economy Action Plan. In March 2020, the European Commission announced that it will adopt a Circular Economy Action plan. The Action Plan will help to modernize the EU’s economy and stimulate the development of lead markets for climate neutral and circular products. Ahead of the publication of the Communication, the European Commission published a Roadmap outlining the issues at stake, and the objectives of the future Communication. The Commission uses roadmaps to define the scope of new policies or plans, describe the problem and explain why EU action is required. The roadmap explains that the action plan aims to speed up the transition towards a circular economy. To achieve this, it will: include a sustainable products policy, include measures to empower consumers to contribute to the circular economy, help reduce waste generation and support the modernization of certain waste laws, foster a well-functioning and integrated internal market for secondary raw materials to ensure that they are safe, competitively priced and reliable, identify actions to address high-impact sector and seek to build European leadership at global level by working closely with key global partners. Ecommerce Europe?s feedback presents the key principles that will be further developed in its Sustainability Working Group. To get a copy of the contribution, please contact Juliette Beaulaton (juliettebeaulaton@ecommerce-
Commission’s White Paper on Artificial Intelligence has leakedA Commission draft White Paper on Artificial Intelligence (AI) has leaked. The Commission paper gives insight into proposals for a European approach to AI. The draft presents five options for different regulatory branches: voluntary labelling, sectorial requirements for public administration and facial recognition, mandatory risk-based requirements for high-risk applications, safety and liability, and governance. The labelling would offer developers the change to commit to ethical and trustworthy AI. The Commission considers time-limited ban on facial recognition in public spaces. Moreover, AI will have to deal with GDPR provisions, giving citizens ?the right not to be subject of a decision based solely on automated processing, including profiling?. The third field in which regulation will be introduced, will feature binding instrument only applicable to ?high-risk applications? of AI. In the field of liability and safety rules, changes might be made to EU safety and liability legislation in the field of product safety, radio equipment and product liability. Finally, with regards to governance, the Commission foresees an effective enforcement system with public oversight with the help of national authorities. The US has also presented a draft guidance on ten ”Principles for the Stewardship of AI Applications.” The approach by the US also has a strong focus on managing risks and maintaining security.
Brussels’ conference on the Digital Services Act in March 2020On 24 March 2020, ForumEurope is organizing a Conference on the Digital Services Act: ?A new rulebook for the digital economy??. The keynote speaker at the conference will be the Danish Executive Vice-President ?A Europe Fit for the Digital Age? of the European Commission, Margrethe Vestager. The registration has opened hereand more information will become available soon on the website of the event, which will take place in Brussels.
Croatian Presidency Working Paper outlines prioritiesA working paper of the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the EU shows that the Council will work on during the first semester of 2020. The Croats are still planning on continuing the negotiations on new ePrivacy legislation and they want to close this file during their Presidency. The Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE) of the European Parliament has scheduled a one-hour presentation of Croatia on the continuation of the ePrivacy proposal on 21 January at 15h30. Apart from e-Privacy, the Presidency will support the European Commission in its work on AI and the Digital Services Act.
Breton: EU ready to act on digital tax, if OECD failsEuropean Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton, said on 20 January that the European Union will take action if discussions at the OECD level on the digital services tax for big tech companies do not lead to an agreement. Breton also noted that EU countries which failed to agree on a tax in an earlier stage, are now on the same line. European Parliament to hold a hearing on Product Liability Directive and the Digital Single Market The Parliament’s Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) will hold a public hearing on the Product Liability Directive and on protecting consumers in the Digital Single Market. The event will take place in the EP on 22 January 2020 from 14h30 to 16h30. The aim of the discussion is to hear the views of stakeholders and academia on the need to review the Product Liability Directive and on related challenges in the new digital age. It would allow participants to present their views on whether the overall liability regime is adequate to facilitate the uptake of the new technologies, and to address the matter from different perspectives. It will also offer the opportunity to hear the Commission?s conclusions of its evaluation work and results achieved in the Expert group on liability and new technologies together with a presentation of further plans in this regard. Ecommerce Europe will follow the debate and report back to members accordingly. More information can be found here.
Europe urged to use industrial dataEuropean Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton, has stated during an interview with Financial Times that Europe has to help its companies to do more with industrial data to help them stave off competition from the US and China. These plans are part of the EU?s ambition to achieve ”digital sovereignty” over America. Part of this is to be harsher on non-EU internet companies. Breton considers revising the EU?s e-Commerce Directive, which has not been changed in 20 years. Breton states that the Directive has to adapt to some fears, complaints from governments, citizens for the responsibility of platforms with regards to illegal and inappropriate content. Breton concludes stating that ,,big companies cannot say it is not my fault or it is not my responsibility”.
CEN/TC331 blocks standardization efforts on Electronic Advanced Data requirement for customs and securityNational standardization authorities sitting in the European Committee for Standardization (CEN)’s Technical Body on Postal Services (CEN/TC 331) blocked an agreement on activating standardization for electronic advanced data (EAD) systems for customs and transport security. Standardization work is integral to the EU VAT E-commerce Package, which is mandated by DG GROW to CEN/TC331. As a result, the existing mandate to CEN/TC331 is in danger of failing. CEN/TC331 and the European Commission need to explore alternative routes to make the work done available to the wider postal sector players For more information, please consult the full report or contact our e-Logistics Expert Walter Trezek (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Tech companies urge EU not to hold them liable for illegal contentBig tech companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter have accepted that removing illegal and harmful activity might require a new oversight body ahead of a new Digital Services Act, but they do not want to be held liable for all illegal content on their platforms. Until present, the EU allowed platforms to regulate themselves for illegal material in everything except content related to terrorism. Thierry Breton, the Commissioner overseeing digital economy has said during his confirmation hearing that he will not give in on the liability of tech companies. Senior officials have said that the process of concluding the DSA is very unpredictable and can still take a long time to come to an agreement.
European Parliament confirms negotiating position on Collective RedressOn 9 January, the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament confirmed the Parliament?s position on collective redress. Following the confirmation, MEPs can now start the negotiations on the final shape of the legislation with the Council, which had already previously adopted its general approach. The Representative Action Directive is part of the New Deal for Consumers, and aims to ensure stronger consumer protection in the EU. The proposed rules allow consumer organizations, or other eligible entities, to pursue collective actions, and according to the European Parliament ?enforce a high level of protection and to represent the collective interest of consumers?. The Parliament?s position introduces the ?loser pays principle?, ensuring that the losing party reimburses the winning party?s legal costs, to avoid abusive use of the new instrument. The next step will be the trialogue negotiations. Both technical and political trialogues are already scheduled to take place in January.
Ecommerce Europe meets Commission President Ursula von der Leyen?s digital adviserOn 23 January, Ecommerce Europe will meet Commission President Ursula von der Leyen?s digital adviser, Antony Whelan. His responsibilities include the Digital Society and Economy, the Digital Single Market, the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship & SMEs, Research and Innovation and Competition. Mr. Whelan is also the contact point for the Executive Vice-President for Europe fit for the Digital Age, Margrethe Vestager. With the meeting, Ecommerce Europe sets out to discuss the priorities of the Commission?s current mandate, the challenges for the e-Commerce sector and exchange views on ongoing and new policy files. From Ecommerce Europe, Luca Cassetti, Director of Public Affairs, Léon Mölenberg, Senior Policy Advisor and Marc Lolivier, Vice-President of Public affairs at Ecommerce Europe and Director General of the French Federation of e-commerce and distance selling (FEVAD), will attend the meeting.
The US and France seek tax compromise to avoid French sanctionsSteven Mnuchin, the US Treasury Secretary, and French Finance Minister Le Mairespoke to each other on 7 January and agreed to increase their efforts to reach a compromise on their tax conflict. France introduced a digital tax of 3% on the revenue made by tech companies such as Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon. The US argued that these measures are discriminatory and therefore responded with a measure that would affect 2.4 billion dollars of French products such as wine, cheese and makeup. Both leaders agreed to try and reach an agreement within 15 days. On the same day, the European Commissioner for Trade, Phil Hogan, has met with the French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire, to discuss an action plan for possible US sanctions. The US has threatened with a 100% tariff on French luxury products after government investigation found the French tax discriminates against American technology companies. Hogan will also talk to Le Maire?s American counterpart next week. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is developing a global digital services tax, something big tech companies desire themselves as they will not have to adapt to many different fiscal systems across the globe.
Omnibus Directive officially entered into forceOn 7 January, new rules on better enforcement and modernization (also known as the Omnibus Directive) of the current EU consumer rules entered into force. The rules are part of the Commission?s New Deal for Consumers. The rules set out to create more transparency of online marketplaces by making it clearer whether products are sold by an individual or a trader. In addition, the submission of fake reviews or endorsements will be prohibited. Important for the e-commerce sector, is the clause on price reductions. According the Directive, sellers will no longer be allowed to have what the Commission calls ?fake price reductions?. This means that sellers will have to indicate for every price reduction, as a reference price the lowest price applied within a period of at least 30 days preceding the price reduction announcement. Ecommerce Europe is organizing a meeting with the Commission?s DG GROW to further discuss our concerns on these new rules and invited other EU industry stakeholders to meet on 16 January to coordinate our action at EU level. Although the rules have entered into force now, in practice, from adoption, member states have 24 months to adopt the measures necessary for its implementation. These measures will start to apply 6 months later.
Ecommerce Europe members invited to participate in consultation on cryptocurrency in the EUThe European Commission is exploring ways to address the challenges created by the emergence of crypto-assets such as bitcoin and the effect these new technologies will have on how financial assets are issued, exchanged, shared and accessed. It has begun the impact assessment process to assess if new legislation is needed in this field. The Commission has opened two consultation procedures. The first is to collect Feedback on the Inception Impact Assessment on a Directive/regulation establishing a European framework for markets in crypto-assets. The Inception Impact Assessment is a concise preliminary document highlighting the context, issues that are meant to be tackled, possible policy options and a preliminary impact assessment. The European Commission is seeking feedback on the content of the Inception Impact Assessment, to feed into the broader impact assessment process. The deadline is 16 January 2020. The second is a Public consultation on EU framework for markets in crypto-assets has been opened to clarify various aspects of the use of crypto-assets and the current regulatory framework and invite stakeholders to express their views on the best way to enable the development of a sustainable ecosystem for crypto-assets. The deadline for this consultation is 12 March 2020.
European Data Protection Supervisor publishes its preliminary opinion on data protection and scientific researchThe European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) has published its preliminary opinion on data protection and scientific research. When scientific research involves personal data processing (e.g. medical research), it falls under the General Data Protection Regulation and other relevant applicable rules. The EDPS acknowledges that there are two camps: one claiming that the GDPR offers too much flexibility and another believing that it limits the innovative aspect of research. Therefore, the EDPS advises to have further discussions between data protection authorities and ethical review boards in order to find out which research activities are deemed as genuine research. Furthermore, the EDPS recommends EU codes of conduct for scientific research, closer alignment between EU research framework programs and data protection standards, and to initiate a debate on the circumstances in which access by researchers to data held by private companies can be based on public interest.
The digital commerce sector is at a turning point. Now more than ever, the decision taken by EU policymakers will determine the success of European e- retailers globally. What makes an e-retailer competitive in a global market is profoundly changing. Businesses have to operate in a globalized business environment where a company’s competitive edge depends on access to new technologies, data, the capacity to operate efficiently cross-border and to adapt rapidly to evolving consumer behavior. Catching up with the growth of digital commerce and the pace of innovation in other markets, especially Asia Pacific and North America, will require strong political will to achieve a harmonized, borderless Digital Single Market, and equally important, a global level-playing field. EU policymakers need to seize the opportunity of the new upcoming mandate in the European Institutions to build a strong political vision for digital commerce. A major challenge for the European e-commerce sector is the lack of a European and ultimately global level-playing field, with possible unfair competition from players often based outside the European Union. E- commerce does not stop at the border of the European Union, it is a global phenomenon. Hence the EU should continue working towards a global regulatory level-playing field for e-commerce. ECOMMERCE-EUROPE-MANIFESTO-FOR-EUROPEAN-ELECTIONS-2019
For an overview of the latest e-commerce related news from Brussels, please have a look at the following attachment: Ecommerce Europe Monitoring 10-07 to 16-07. This week, Ecommerce Europe will be meeting with several EU policymakers to discuss two important proposals: the New Deal for Consumers and the Platform-to-Business relations (P2B). In particular, on 18-19 and 23 July, Ecommerce Europe will meet with the Permanent Representations of Luxembourg, Ireland, Bulgaria and Belgium. Furthermore, Ecommerce Europe will meet with: Mr. Eric Peters, from the Cabinet of Commissioner Mariya Gabriel; Representatives of the European Commission’s Directorate General in charge of the New Deal for Consumers (DG JUST); Mr. Werner Stengg, Head of Unit “E-commerce and online platforms” of the European Commission’s Directorate General in harge of the Proposal on Platform-to-Business relations (DG CONNECT); The assistant of the Shadow Rapporteur for the one of the two proposals of the New Deal for Consumers in the European Parliament, MEP Jasenk Selimovic. Furthermore, this week the team will keep performing public affairs and lobbying activities, focusing mainly on the Digital Services Tax, New Deal for Consumers and Platform-to-Business relations. Please see below the policy highlights of the past week: EU Commission and EU consumer authorities push Airbnb to comply with EU consumer rules The European Commission and EU consumer authorities are calling on Airbnb to align their terms and conditions with EU consumer rules and be transparent on their presentation of prices. Commissioner Jourová declared today that: “More and more consumers book their holiday accommodation online and this sector has brought many new opportunities to holidaymakers. But popularity cannot be an excuse for not complying with EU consumer rules. Consumers must easily understand what for and how much they are expected to pay for the services and have fair rules e.g. on cancellation of the accommodation by the owner?. The Commissioner expects Airbnb to follow up swiftly with the right solutions. In particular, the Commission believes that Airbnb’s current pricing presentation and a number of its terms do not comply with the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, the Unfair Contract Terms Directive, and the Regulation on the jurisdiction in civil and commercial matters. Therefore, the European consumer authorities and the Commission have demanded from Airbnb a number of changes. Airbnb has until the end of August to present their proposals. Once Airbnb proposes its solutions, the Commission and the EU consumer authorities will evaluate them and, if they are not considered satisfactory, Airbnb could face an enforcement action. Austrian Presidency of the Council publishes a revised text of the ePrivacy Regulation On 10 July, the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU released a revised text of the Proposal for a Regulation on Privacy, focusing on Permitted processing, Protection of end-users’ terminal equipment information and Privacy settings, which are respectively covered by articles 6, 8 and 10 (and the related recitals). This text will be considered by the national delegations in view of the discussion in the Working Party on Telecommunications and Information Society (WP TELE), which will take place on 17 July. In Article 6, the Presidency introduced a possibility for further compatible processing of electronic communications metadata. Furthermore, additional safeguards for the protection of citizen?s data have been included. Regarding Article 8, no amendments were introduced. However, further details on conditional access to website content have been provided. Regarding Article 10, on privacy settings, the Presidency announced that it would like to discuss the possibility of deleting the article from the regulation and its respective recitals. MEP Gebhardt reports back to the EU Parliament on the negotiations regarding contracts for the supply of digital content On 11 July, the Rapporteur for the Proposal for a Digital Content Directive, MEP Gebhardt, reported back to the IMCO Committee of the European Parliament on the state of play of the interinstitutional negotiations on this legislative file. She warned that there were difficulties with the Council in reaching an agreement and that MEPs need to put pressure on the Council. Ms. Gebhardt stated that there are two outstanding issues: smart goods (goods with embedded digital content) and the level of harmonization. These issues could not be dealt with in technical meetings, as they are very political, so they will need to be discussed at trialogue level. She stressed that the Council has so far declined to include smart goods in the scope of the Digital Content Proposal, saying that they should be included in the Sales of Goods Proposal. The European Parliament, however, insists on the fact that smart goods are digital goods, at least as far as the digital component of these goods is concerned. Ms. Gebhardt said that this is creating a huge problem since the Council failed to come up with any common position on the Sales of Goods Proposal. She also expressed her fear that an agreement on this file will not be reached by the European elections in May next year. MEP L?kkegaard reports back to the EU Parliament on negotiations regarding the Accessibility Act On 11 July, the Rapporteur for the Proposal for a European Accessibility Act, MEP L?kkegaard, reported back to the IMCO Committee of the European Parliament on the state of play of the interinstitutional negotiations on this legislative file. Mr. L?kkegaard said that, during the last trialogue which took place on 10 July, all parties had confirmed their willingness and dedication to make progress on this file. Since the Council did not have an updated mandate, no specific movement on the most difficult topics was made. However, compromises were found on some technical issues. For instance, on enforcement, the European Parliament and the Council have similar approaches and they both seek to limit the possibility to end up with numerous litigations. The Parliament limits actions to people who have direct interest in the case and the Council to organizations that have received approval of the consumer to introduce a complaint on their behalf. Furthermore, the Parliament was supported for adding the proposal for alternative dispute resolution. The next trialogues will take place on 2 October and 8 November, with the hope to have the final result by then. EU Parliament held a public hearing on consumer protection and the New Deal for Consumers On 11 July, the IMCO Committee of the European Parliament held a public hearing on ?Better enforcement and modernisation of EU consumer protection rules?, in the context of the New Deal for Consumers. More specifically, during the hearing, participants discussed about a modification proposed by the Commission to the Consumer Rights Directive for a fairer right of withdrawal, in order to avoid abuses by consumers caused by over-use of goods that are returned to the trader. A representative from the University of Passau stated that, based on a survey they conducted, there were no sufficient data that would suggest there is a requirement to make changes to the right of withdrawal. This is because, according to her, the majority of SMEs stated they never faced disproportionate burden when accepting the return of unduly tested goods. Ecommerce Europe does not agree on the conclusions of this survey, and fully supports the Commission?s approach for an amended right of withdrawal, which would avoid consumers? abuses of such a right. Also other stakeholders stated that the ?limitation of the right of withdrawal is not the right approach? and that it should be deleted from the proposal. MEP Dalton, the IMCO Rapporteur for the Proposed Directive on better enforcement and modernisation of EU consumer protection rules, said that he plans to publish the draft report in the coming days, with a deadline for amendments in the IMCO Committee in September and, hopefully, a committee vote in November 2018, so that the trialogues could start in January 2019. He also said that the limitation to the right of withdrawal has little support in the European Parliament and that fines on turnover were too repressive. He also questioned the part of the legislation on online rankings because requirements to disclose product placement on shelves in offline stores do not exist. On the other hand, the European Commission has said that it fully stands behind the right of withdrawal, but that it believes that the current obligations pose an undue burden for retailers, which is perfectly in line with the position of Ecommerce Europe. Therefore, the Commission proposes simpler rules which would only impact a minority of consumers. Ecommerce Europe is meeting with EU policymakers to represent the interests of online merchants in this important discussion.
For an overview of the latest e-commerce related news from Brussels, please have a look at:Ecommerce Europe Monitoring 03-07 to 09-07. This week, Ecommerce Europe will attend the official opening of the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU where the Austrian Federal Minister for the EU, Arts, Culture and Media, Gernot Blümel, will address the main priorities of the presidency. Furthermore, this week the team will keep performing public affairs and lobbying activities, focusing mainly on the Digital Services Tax, New Deal for Consumers and Platform-to-Business relations. Please see below the policy highlights of the past week: Ecommerce Europe to meet legislators on New Deal for Consumers and Platform-to-Business relations Last week, Ecommerce Europe published two new position papers, covering two important files: the Proposal for a Regulation on fairness and transparency in online platform trading and the Proposal for a Directive on better enforcement and modernization of EU consumer protection rules. The first Proposal was published by the European Commission in April 2018. Ecommerce Europe overall welcomed its publication. In particular, we appreciate and support the soft-touch and principle-based approach of the Commission. Online platforms, such as e-commerce marketplaces, are engines of growth. That is why we want this Regulation to struck the right balance between their interests and the interests of online merchants, especially SMEs that sell via marketplaces. Well balanced also in redress rights which, in our view, are best served by a transparent complaints-handling completed by a fair mediation system, however not by the proposed representative court action, which lacks the balance between collective redress and individual redress. The second Proposal is part of the New Deal for Consumers package, also presented in April 2018. In general, we agree with the Commission on the fact that EU Consumer Law is mostly already fit for purpose and need only some targeted adjustments. Some changes included in this proposal, for instance on the right of withdrawal, are likely to foster online sales, by removing current burdensome obligations on merchants. Nevertheless, we question some other adjustments that may ultimately harm businesses. We already sent our contributions to the EU legislators and we will already meet with some of them before the summer break. For more information, please download our position papers from this website. The Digital Services Tax is a de facto tariff, according to PIIE The Peterson Institute for International Economics published its policy brief on the European Commission?s Proposal introducing a (temporary) Digital Services Tax, claiming that it de facto acts as a prohibited tariff, under the WTO rules. These claims come from the Proposal?s high revenue thresholds and exclusion of certain revenues which would inevitably discriminate U.S. companies as opposed to the European ones. The policy brief warns that the U.S. could therefore decide to retaliate and sets out several possible U.S. retaliation responses to the DST. The PIIE policy brief is available here. Ecommerce Europe is actively lobbying for a global solution, at OECD level, since the taxation of the digital economy is a global issue. The European Payment Retail Board published new documents stemming from the meeting on 18 June As you may remember, on 18 June, Ecommerce Europe attended the 9th meeting of the European Payment Retail Board. The participants discussed – among other things – the new workplan of the ERPB for 2019 to 2021, that will be finalize during the next meeting in Autumn, as well as the work of the European Commission on ongoing files. The new workplan will likely include key topics for the ecommerce sector, such as e-Identity, fraud, obstacles to electronic payment or interoperability of point-of-interaction acceptance for instant payment. All the relevant documents of the meeting can now be found on the ERPB webpage. This week in the EU Parliament: Accessibility Act, Digital Content Directive and EU consumer protection rules On 11 July, the Rapporteur Morten L?kkegaard will report back to the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) Committee on the state of the negotiations regarding the Accessibility Act. Likewise, the Rapporteur Evelyne Gebhardt is scheduled to report back to the committee on the discussions on contracts for the supply of digital content. Moreover, the IMCO Committee will hold a public hearing on ?Better enforcement and modernisation of EU consumer protection rules?, in the context of the package ?New Deal for Consumers?. Members and experts will discuss the post-REFIT proposal on the revision of consumer law. The hearing will also provide input for an IMCO implementation report on the same topic, to be elaborated later this year. The program and other details are available here. Ecommerce Europe will follow the discussions and will provide a summary in due time. In the meantime, Ecommerce Europe published it position paper on the New Deal for Consumers (Part I), which is available here. First player to embrace European harmonized parcel label for more sustainable and efficient last-mile delivery Eco2city is a Dutch non-governmental organization (NGO) that supports cities all over Europe in their effort to achieve efficient and zero emission city logistics. As part of this goal, Eco2city has become the first player in Europe to implement the European Harmonized Parcel Label, recognizing its ability to positively impact the future of last-mile delivery. Ecommerce Europe and GS1?s joint blue paper The Business Case for the Harmonized Parcel Label, states that ?E-commerce is fundamentally changing postal and parcel markets?. However, ?? the current parcel streams are ill-fitted to accommodate this?. The sharing of data between players involved in a delivery is crucial to improving the efficiency and sustainability of last mile delivery. The Harmonized Parcel Label and its globally unique parcel identifier will help answer the future demands of all stakeholders in the delivery service industry, including customers, manufacturers, retailers, integrators, e-fulfilment companies, carriers, parcel collection/return points and the government. As you may remember, in 2016-2017, Ecommerce Europe chaired a working group within the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) to deliver the harmonized standard for parcel labels. For more information, please read the press release of GS1 in Europe here.
For an overview of the latest e-commerce related news from Brussels, please have a look at:Ecommerce Europe Monitoring 26-06 to 02-07. Today, Ecommerce Europe has launched the new European B2C Ecommerce Report 2018. The report gathers data collected and provides with e-commerce facts, figures and trend while offering great insights into European e-commerce markets, describing both the commercial opportunities, as well as various challenges. To download the report, please visit this website. Furthermore, this week the team will keep performing public affairs and lobbying activities. Please see below the policy highlights of the past week: Ecommerce Europe sent a letter on the Digital Services Tax to the European Council ahead of their meeting on 28-29 June Ecommerce Europe sent a letter on 25 June warning the European leaders that the proposed Digital Services Tax (DST) would have a negative impact on the EU economy, as it would harm European businesses, particularly SMEs. Ecommerce Europe expressed its concerns about the fact that the DST targets company revenues, not profits, and called the leaders to rather focus on working towards a global solution through the OECD. While not supporting the DST Proposal, Ecommerce Europe proposed a few suggestions on how to make it less problematic in case Member States agree to pursue that solution. Safeguards that take into account profitability, avoidance of double taxation and ensuring enforceability against non-EU companies are the three major suggestions on how to improve the DST Proposal. In addition, Ecommerce Europe recommended a sunset clause to be included in the Proposal which will ensure that it will indeed be an interim measure on the way to a new international solution. The letter is available here. European Council meeting concludes: The Council should work forward on the Commission proposals on digital taxation During their meeting on 28 and 29 June, the EU heads of state and government concluded that ensuring fair and effective taxation is a key priority. The leaders agreed that the fight against tax avoidance, evasion and fraud must be vigorously pursued both at global level (notably in the OECD) and within the EU. Moreover, they stressed that there is a real need to adapt the taxation systems to the digital era. Therefore, they called on the Council to take work forward on the Commission proposals on digital taxation. More information is available here. European Commission and four online marketplaces sign a Product Safety Pledge to remove dangerous products On 25 June, four major online marketplaces, Alibaba (for AliExpress), Amazon, eBay and Rakuten-France have signed a commitment for faster removal of dangerous products sold on their online marketplaces. The four major online companies have committed to responding to notifications on dangerous products from Member State authorities within 2 working days and take action on notices from customers within 5 working days. V?ra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, welcomed this decision that will improve consumer safety and called on other online marketplaces to join the initiative. These four major online marketplaces have agreed to a series of commitments to ensure EU consumers are well protected. The online marketplaces and the European Commission will assess the progress made on the commitments every six months, publishing a report. The full press release is available here. The Council of the EU agrees its negotiating stance on the Commission’s Proposal on Cross-border payments On 27 June, EU ambassadors agreed the Council’s negotiating stance on the Commission’s proposal to make cross-border payments in euros cheaper across the EU. They asked the presidency to start negotiations with the European Parliament as soon as the Parliament is ready to negotiate. It was agreed that a euro transfer should never be subject to a disproportionately high fee, whether or not the consumer is based in the euro area. The Council endorsed the Commission’s proposal to align the charges for cross-border payments in euros for services such as credit transfers, card payments or cash withdrawals with the charges for corresponding national payments of the same value in the national currency of the Member State where the payment service provider of the payment service user is located. In addition, the proposal increases transparency requirements on the costs of currency conversion when such a service is offered before a payment transaction is carried out. Negotiations with the European Parliament will proceed as soon as the Parliament has agreed its stance. For more information, visit this link. The Council of the EU sets VAT minimum standard rate permanently at 15% On 22 June, the Council adopted a directive making the 15% minimum standard rate a permanent feature of a new VAT system. The minimum standard rate prevents excessive divergence in VAT rates in the member states. This eliminates the risk of distortions of competition through lower VAT rates that would have an impact on cross-border shopping and trade. More information is available here. New Deal for Consumers: Plenary adoption planned for 22 November On 20 July, MEP Daniel Dalton, the lead rapporteur of the IMCO Committee of the European Parliament, is expected to publish his draft report on one of the proposals of the New Deal for Consumers, which is modifying four main EU consumer directives. MEPs Pascal Arimont, Evelyne Gebhardt, Julia Reda and Marco Zullo have been appointed Shadow Rapporteurs. According to the new calendar, the IMCO Committee will discuss the report on 3 September and the deadline for tabling amendments is 18 September with the aim to adopt the legislation on 22 November, during the Plenary. Ecommerce Europe sent its position paper to the all relevant MEPs and has requested a meeting with them to further discuss Ecommerce Europe?s views on this important
For an overview of the latest e-commerce related news from Brussels, please have a look at the attachment: Ecommerce Europe Monitoring 19-06 to 25-06. This week, the Ecommerce Europe team will be engaged in the following meetings: On 27 June, Ecommerce Europe will meet with the Fiscal Attache of the Czech Republic Permanent Representation to the EU, Ms. Hana Stulajterova in order to discuss the position of the e-commerce industry with regard to the introduction of a Digital Services Tax. On 28 June, Ecommerce Europe will attend EuroCommerce Working Group on ePrivacy and New Deal for Consumers. The Working Group will discuss the state of play of the two proposals, the next steps and the lobbying strategy. Furthermore, the team will keep performing public affairs and lobbying activities. Please see below the policy highlights of the past week: The IMCO Committee holds a public hearing with industry representatives on addressing unfair trading practices in B2B relations in the online environment On 19 June the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee held a public hearing with the members of the IMCO Committee, the European Commission and representatives from online platforms, the hotel industry and SMEs. Mr. Stengg, from the European Commission, briefly explained the proposed P2B Regulation and the main issues of friction between online platforms and their business users. Mr. Price (Google) expressed his concern with the proposed collective action process. Mr. Laurinkari (eBay) called for more flexibility to ensure platforms can efficiently run their business and to ensure the right balance between the needs of the consumers and the needs of businesses. Mr. Lochbihler (booking.com) said that there is a need to further clarify certain definitions in the proposal and that transparency requirements should apply to everyone who competes in the same field. Mr. de Barrin (HOTREC) gave three proposals for the improvement of the Regulation: ensuring that business owners can control their own brand, ensuring access to data of the guest and ensuring that the business user can control its own distribution. He also asked for an objective description of all types of sanctions and penalties applied to business users as well as for the Regulation to be revised every 2 years (not every 3 years as proposed). Ms. Bermejo (Spanish Association of start-ups and micro SMEs) warned that the scope of the Regulation was too wide, that it was hard for startups to constantly adapt to new legislation, that 15 days prior notice when terms and conditions change was too long and that Article 7 (point 2b) was not clear. The representative of Seznam expressed her opposition to the extension of the Regulation to search engines. Representative of Spotify warned that transparency alone doesn?t prevent unfairness and that the Regulation must include specific obligations not to engage in certain specific unfair practices. It should also include effective remedies to ensure compliance, she added. For the full video of the hearing please click on this link. The European Commission also reiterate that the Proposal should be adopted before the European elections next year. Legal Affairs Committee: rapporteurs report back on the state of negotiations with the Council of the EU on the issue of contracts for the supply of digital content On 20 June, the Rapporteurs of the Legal Affairs Committee, Mr. Voss and Ms. Gebhardt, reported back to the Committee on the state of negotiations with the Council of the EU on the issue of contracts for the supply of digital content. Mr. Voss stated there were two main points that remained open, causing a deadlock in the negotiations. The first one is the digital goods issue (or goods that combine software and hardware). The second one is the issue of harmonization in this area. The Council would like to see those software products included in the online trade provisions, but the European Parliament wants to ensure that goods with digital content are regulated in some way. Mr. Voss added that they had called upon on the Council to move forward on the Sales of Goods Directive so that some progress can be made by October to ensure that the Digital Contracts Proposals would not contradict each other The Parliament wants to ensure that all goods are covered, regardless of where they were bought (online or offline) and wants to see both packages negotiated in parallel. It asked the Council for suggestions to be tabled by October the latest, to wrap up on the file in February/March. Ms. Gebhardt warned that the Council had no position on the digital goods or on how these software-based goods would be incorporated. The Parliament wants embedded software included whereas some states openly oppose the Directive (e.g. Germany). She urged the Parliament not to give ground on this as it has already made concessions in other areas. She also said that it was unacceptable that there was no timetable for technical meetings or trialogues on these matters under the Austrian Presidency. The full video of the discussion is available here. The IMCO committee held a public hearing on illegal content removal in the digital single market On 19 June the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) committee held a public hearing with several experts and members of the IMCO committee on the topic of illegal content removal in the digital single market. The discussion was mainly focused on the legal framework and the imperfection of content filters and human review in determining what content should be taken down. It was stressed that we must ensure that legal content is not take down in the process. The participants did not discuss the topic of counterfeit goods sold online. The full video of the discussion is available here. Ecommerce Europe met DG Energy to discuss obligations of online marketplaces regarding energy labelling On Friday 25 June, Ecommerce Europe met with the European Commission?s DG Energy at their request to discuss the obligations of online marketplaces regarding energy labelling. Under the framework regulation on energy labelling, 2017/1369, ?dealers? of certain energy related products have an obligation to visibly display energy label and provide product information. According to the Commission, this obligation also applies to online marketplaces when they act purely as intermediaries. The Commission is now preparing delegated acts and wants to ensure that this interpretation prevails and that it is indisputable that online marketplaces have a material obligation to display energy label and product information and are liable for non-compliance. The Commission has time until mid-July to submit the legislative draft and plans to have the rules adopted by November. More information can be found on the Commission?s website on the products that are regulated through Energy Labelling, including the Energy Labelling FAQ, with explanations on page 34-35 indicating when the electronic label and product fiche are expected to be shown. We will provide members with a more detailed update on the intention of the European Commission on this matter shortly. The European Banking Authority opens its online Interactive Single Rulebook and Q&A tool to questions on PSD2 The EBA has updated its online Interactive Single Rulebook and Q&A tool to include PSD2. Users will now be able to submit questions on the application of the Directive and the work of the EBA. Through in Q&A tool, the EBA hopes to support a consistent application of the regulatory framework established by PSD2 and the RTS on SCA. Ecommerce Europe will assess if there is an opportunity for additional clarification from the European Banking Authority through this tool. Rapporteur Morten L?kkegaard reports back to the IMCO Committee on the Accessibility requirements for products and services On 18 June, the Rapporteur Morten L?kkegaard reported back to the IMCO committee on the Accessibility Act. His conclusions were that it was obvious that Member States were not ready to update their mandate. This means that the Council will most likely not be able to negotiate at the next trialogue scheduled for next Tuesday (26 June), which is a critical setback for the negotiations considering the aim was to reach an agreement during the Bulgarian presidency. On enforcement and complaint mechanism, it was agreed to drop the database under the conditions that the registers and complaint mechanism are kept, while referring to existing mechanisms under the alternative dispute resolution. On emergency services, although the European Parliament made a written proposal, the Council showed up at the trialogue with empty hands, so progress couldn?t be made. The issue of self-service terminals also remains open to further clarifications and discussions. Regarding transport, tourism, other union ex. micro enterprises, CE marking and the built environment ? although the discussion was on a right and constructive path, there is still a long way to go unless the Council comes back with an updated mandate. Lastly, the rapporteur concluded that he was very reluctant to have a fifth trialogue if the Council shows no flexibility on any item. MEP Sehnalova expressed her disappointment with the failure of the negotiations and said this was a very significant act which should be brought to life as soon as practicable. The full discussion is available here.
For an overview of the latest e-commerce related news from Brussels, please have a look at the attachment: Ecommerce Europe Monitoring 12-06 to 18-06. This week, the Ecommerce Europe team will be engaged in the following meetings: On 20 June, the first Händlerbund – Ecommerce Europe Workshop on Digital Taxation and VAT will kick-off in Berlin. Members and experts will discuss the plans of the European Union with regards to the recent proposals on the Taxation of the Digital Economy and understanding how to implement the EU VAT E-commerce Reform adopted in December 2017. On 20 June, Ecommerce Europe will attend the GSMA Mobile Meetings Series entitled ?Enhancing Fairness in Platform-to-Business Relations?. The event will bring together around 20 high-level representatives from the EU institutions, industry and other stakeholders with the aim to explore if the Regulation proposed by the Commission represents what the sector really needs in terms of a regulatory framework and how it will shape the future of the Digital Single Market. Furthermore, the team will keep performing public affairs and lobbying activities. Please see below the policy highlights of the past week: Busy week ahead in the EU Parliament: accessibility, illegal content online, platforms, digital content on the agenda The European Parliament will be discussing important e-commerce related files this week. On 18 June, the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO) will discuss about the European Accessibility Act: the Rapporteur for this dossier, MEP Morten L?kkegaard, will report back to the Committee on the ongoing interinstitutional negotiations on the proposed Directive. On 19 June, the IMCO Committee will hold two hearings. The first one will focus on the EU?s horizontal regulatory framework for the removal of illegal content in the Digital Single Market: representatives from platforms, international organisations, academia and national authorities will discuss with MEPs the existing EU horizontal legal framework for tackling illegal content online, the different approaches by Member States and voluntary best practices developed by platforms (click here for more information and the draft program). The second hearing will focus on addressing unfair trading practices in B2B (or Platform-to-Business) relations in the online environment: MEPs will discuss with experts, stakeholders and policy makers how to address the emergence of unfair practices in platform to business relationships, bearing in mind the increasingly important role of online platforms as vehicles for market access. They will also explore any problems that may arise in terms of lack of redress and more broadly the risk of fragmentation in the internal market (click here for more information and the draft program). The full agenda of the IMCO Committee is available here and the meetings can be followed live via this link. Finally, on 20 June, the Rapporteurs of the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) will report back to the Committee on the ongoing interinstitutional negotiations on the proposed Digital Content Directive. Ecommerce Europe will closely follow the discussions and report back to the members in due time. The EBA published its opinion on the implementation of the RTS on SCA On 13 June, the European Banking Authority (EBA) published an Opinion on the implementation of the Regulatory Technical Standards on Strong Customer Authentication (RTS on SCA). This opinion aims at clarifying certain aspects of the standards and answering the numerous questions the EBA received from market participants and is primally addressed to National competent authorities. It covers the main requirements for the dedicated interfaces and application programming interface, the application of the SCA, the different exemptions to strong authentication as well as the methods that can be used to authenticate. The EBA will also continue to provide clarifications using the EBA?s Single Rulebook question and answer (Q&A) tool, which will be extended to PSD2 by the end of June 2018. The RTS on SCA will be legally applicable from 14 September 2019. Ecommerce Europe is finalizing an updated position paper to support and coordinate lobbying efforts at national level. Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU publishes its official program The Austrian Federal Government has recently presented in Brussels the program for the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU, which will start on 1 July and last until 31 December 2018. On the issue of digitalization and competitiveness, the Austrian Presidency aims at continuing the EU?s work on the taxation of the digital economy in order to ensure that profits are taxed in the country in which they are generated, while avoiding overregulation. The Presidency aims to take strong and unequivocal positions vis-?-vis international partners, especially when it comes to taxation of the digital economy. The Austrian Presidency will attach particular importance to this issue in a bid to advance the negotiations and to outline potential solutions in light of the developments at G-20, OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) and EU level. Work on the European Commission?s proposal for the introduction of a common corporate tax base will continue as well. In the field of indirect taxation, the Presidency plans to achieve progress on the numerous European Commission proposals for modernizing VAT. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), start-ups and scale-ups are to take center stage during the Austrian Presidency, with an environment offering legal certainty while at the same time promoting growth and innovation to help them become more competitive. A particular focus will be on finalizing the platform-to-business trading (P2B) dossier. Austria will also continue constructive negotiations on the Single Market Program, the goods, services and compliance packages as well as on the ?New Deal for Consumers? package. Ecommerce Europe invited to discuss energy labeling issues on platforms The European Commission has invited Ecommerce Europe to engage with them on the issue of energy labeling on the internet and, in particular, the role of ?hosting? platforms. Due to a Swedish Court on the responsibility of such platforms in showing the energy label on the internet as per the applicable rules, the Commission is looking into the existing rules to see if there is room to further clarify then and avoid any ambiguity about who is responsible for what in this context. The meeting will take place on Friday 22 June and we will report back to the members with more information regarding this matter HM Revenue & Customs survey for businesses trading in online retail The HM Revenue & Customs department of the Government of the United Kingdom launched a short online survey about businesses experiences trading in online retail. Members of Ecommerce Europe are invited to fill in the survey which can be found here. The deadline for filling the survey in is Friday, 22 June 2018.
For an overview of the latest e-commerce related news from Brussels, please have a look at the attachment: Ecommerce Europe Monitoring 05-06 to 11-06. This week, the Ecommerce Europe team will be engaged in the following meetings: On 11 June, Ecommerce Europe will attend the ADR Assembly 2018. The event will bring together representatives of notified European ADR entities, ADR competent authorities, ODR contact points, European Consumer Centres, consumer organisations, business associations and other stakeholders. It will provide a forum to exchange best practice, network and discuss questions around the effective provision of alternative and online dispute resolution. On 14 June, Ecommerce Europe will meet with Mr. Sami Koskinen, Financial Attache of the Permanent Represention of Finland to the EU and with Ms. Hana Stulajterova, Financial Attache of the Permanent Representation of Czech Republic to the EU in order to discuss the position of the e-commerce industry with regard to the introduction of a Digital Services Tax. Furthermore, the team will keep performing public affairs and lobbying activities. Please see below the policy highlights of the past week: The administrator of a fan page is jointly responsible with Facebook for the processing of data of visitors to the page, according to the EU Court of Justice On 5 June, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that administrators of Facebook fan pages are jointly responsible with Facebook for the processing of data of visitors to the page. Administrators of fan pages can obtain anonymous statistical data on visitors to the fan pages via a function called ?Facebook Insights?. This data is collected by means of evidence files (?cookies?), each containing a unique user code, which are stored by Facebook on the device of visitors to the fan page. An administrator takes part in the determination of the purposes and means of processing the personal data of the visitors to its fan page since they can ask for data in anonymized form concerning its target audience and thereby request the processing of that data. Therefore, the administrator must be regarded as a controller jointly responsible with Facebook for the processing of data. According to the Court, the fact that an administrator of a fan page, such as an online merchant, uses the platform provided by Facebook in order to benefit from the associated services (i.e. promotion of products, tailored offers) cannot exempt it from compliance with its obligations concerning the protection of personal data. Therefore, this Court decision has implications also for merchants who must comply with data protection rules not only on their websites but also on their social media accounts. The full court ruling can be found here whereas the summary of the ruling can be found here. No agreement on ePrivacy Regulation under the Bulgarian Presidency, TTE Council concludes The Telecommunications Council, held on 8 June, concluded that an agreement on ePrivacy Regulation will not be reached under the Bulgarian Presidency as wished by the Commission. The Bulgarian Presidency declared that more work under their and the upcoming Austrian Presidency is necessary. The Presidency asked the Member States? Representatives to give their opinions on three questions: acceptability of the proposal on metadata processing, acceptability of articles 8 and 10 as well as their opinion on the proposal?s balance between ensuring competitiveness of European businesses and safeguarding of privacy at the same time. The vast majority of Member States declared that the text required more work in all points raised by the Bulgarian Presidency, including the UK, France, Germany and Italy which made detailed proposals. Luxembourg went the furthest by saying that GDPR deals sufficiently with article 8. All Member States gave their opinion, except for Spain. HM Revenue & Customs survey for businesses trading in online retail The HM Revenue & Customs department of the Government of the United Kingdom launched a short online survey about businesses experiences trading in online retail. Members of Ecommerce Europe are invited to fill in the survey which can be found here. The deadline for filling the survey in is Friday, 22 June 2018. Justice and Home Affairs Council holds a policy debate on certain aspects concerning contracts for the sales of goods On 4 June 2018, the Justice and Home Affairs Ministers debated the Sales of Goods Directive. The Bulgarian Presidency stated that one of the main issues was related to the Digital Content Directive. The 3 issues for the discussion were: the possibility of having one set of rules to apply to all kind of goods including smart goods (those with embedded digital content), an issue of key importance for the EP (which wanted to apply a split approach); the suitability of remedies; and the length of the guarantee. The Member States welcomed the inclusion of smart goods in the Directive. At the same time, many were concerned that the level of consumer protection will be diminished with only a 2-year guarantee period. Commissioner Vera Jourova declared that the directive is crucial for the completion of the Digital Single Market. Denmark, Finland and Sweden call for a global solution for the taxation of the digital economy Finance Ministers of the three Nordic countries published their opinion on the Digital Services Tax proposed by the European Commission, which is basically in line with the position of Ecommerce Europe. While agreeing that everyone needs to pay their taxes and that a level playing field must be ensured, the ministers expressed their concern regarding the Commission?s interim proposal. They believe the proposal deviates form international principles when it comes to taxing rights of countries based on where the value is created. Furthermore, in their opinion, taxation of gross income deviates from fundamental principles of income taxation. They also expressed concern about enforcement of such tax and possible retaliation from non-EU countries. The ministers highlighted the need to ensure favorable climate for businesses and competitiveness of the EU economy. Therefore, they agree that a global OECD solution should be pursued instead. The full opinion is available here. Citizens’ Dialogue on the New Deal for Consumers takes place in Copenhagen and Helsinki The third and fourth Citizens’ Dialogue on the New Deal for Consumers took place in Copenhagen and Helsinki respectively. The event is jointly organised by the Commission and state authorities as a way to listen to the views and concerns of citizens in regards to the new proposed legislation. During the event in Copenhagen, Jakob Hald, Director General of the Competition and Consumer Authority, said that the goal was not to weaken consumer protection but to modernize it. One of the most sensitive issues revolved around who had the right to represent consumers in cases of mass harm. Finish Employment Minister Jari Lindstrom pointed out that The New Deal is not just about consumers but also about the health of the economy, because it increases consumer?s trust towards the markets. Finland’s Justice Minister, Antti Häkkänen, while supporting the Commission’s efforts, pointed out that consumer law needs to be simplified. For full press release of the events please visit this (Copenhagen) and this (Helsinki) link. Next meeting of the GDPR Multi-stakeholder Group postponed to September 2018 The European Commission?s DG Justice announced that the next meeting of the Consultation Group on the application of GDPR, of which Ecommerce Europe is a member, will be postponed to 18 September 2018 instead of 22 June. The main reason for this is the fact that, following the entry into application of the GDPR on 25 May, several Member States are still in the process of adopting their national legislation. Therefore, the Commission believes that a more fruitful discussion can be yielded after the summer. The agenda will follow in due time.
For an overview of the latest e-commerce related news from Brussels, please have a look at the attachment: Ecommerce Europe Monitoring 23-05 to 28-05. This week, the Ecommerce Europe team will be engaged in the following meetings: On 29 May, Senior Policy Advisor Léon Mölenberg will attend the European Justice Forum Business & Expert Roundtable. The discussion will focus on an exchange of information on the proposal on representative action. Collective redress will be part of the discussion as well. On 29, Communications Officer Laura Contin will attend a CEPS event on: AI and Cybersecurity: Friends or foes? The discussion will revolve around the following question: What are the implications of current and future use of machine learning for cybersecurity and how is AI transforming information security? On 1 June, Public Affairs Advisor on e-Payments Juliette Beaulaton will attend a policy debate on ?Let?s make big tech accountable?. The discussion will focus on how the tech sector, policy-makers and citizens can work together to find solutions to make tech companies more accountable and transparent. Furthermore, the team will keep performing public affairs and lobbying activities. Please see below the policy highlights of the past week: EU Ministers discuss Platform Regulation and New Deal for Consumers at the Competitiveness Council Today, EU Ministers are gathering for a meeting of the Competitiveness Council. The Regulation on platforms to business relations was discussed this morning, and ministers generally expressed their support for the proposal. Austria ? that will hold the next Presidency of the Council as of July 2018 ? declared its intention to reach a general approach on the file in November of this year. This was echoed by Vice-President Andrus Ansip that declared wanting to close the file before the end of the Commission?s mandate in mid-2019. This afternoon, Ministers will continue to discuss on topics including the state of play of the Digital Single Market and the New Deal for Consumers. A more detailed update will follow in due time. Ecommerce Europe is preparing two position papers, based on the discussions we had in the e-Regulations Working Committee. The Bulgarian Presidency published guidance documents on the Sales of Goods proposals On 24 May, the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council published a guidance for the policy debate on the Sales of goods proposal that will be held on 4 and 5 June. The document highlights the main policy questions on which delegations should provide additional political guidance. The Presidency insists particularly on the need to ensure consistence between this proposal and the proposal on Digital Content. Delegations will be invited to prepare to answer questions on a single set of rules for all consumer goods, remedies, and the level harmonization and time limits. The Council published an updated Bulgarian Presidency digital taxation roadmap On 23 May, the Bulgarian Presidency published an updated digital taxation roadmap based on comments of delegations at the meeting of the High Level Working Party (Taxation) on 16 May 2018. The Presidency will be giving priority to the two files in the coming months in the Council and preparatory bodies. The Presidency intends to carry out a first round of detailed technical analysis of the Digital services tax directive (DSTD) legislative proposal at the Working Party on Tax Questions by June 2018. As for the Proposal for a Council Directive laying down rules relating to the corporate taxation of a significant digital presence (“SDPD”), the Council believes that by June 2018 initial technical analysis of this proposal will be completed at Working Party on Tax Questions level as well. The Bulgarian Presidency has started the initial technical examination of both DSTD and PSPD. The General Data Protection Regulation entered into application On 25 May, the General Data Protection Regulation became effective, creating one set of data protection rules for all companies operating in the EU. The European Commission has now shifted its focus on the implementation phase by actively supporting Member States. The Commission will organize an event to take stock of different stakeholders’ experiences of implementing the Regulation in 2019. This will feed into the report the Commission is required to produce by May 2020 on the evaluation and review of the Regulation. For more information on the Regulation, you can consult the Commission?s guidance and official website.
Dear Member of Ecommerce Europe, For an overview of the latest e-commerce related news from Brussels, please have a look at the attachment: Ecommerce Europe Monitoring 15-05 to 22-05. Please note that yesterday, 21 May, it was a public holiday in Belgium. This is why the weekly policy update is exeptionally released on Tuesday this week. This week, the Ecommerce Europe team will be engaged in the following meetings: On 23 May, the Director of Public Affairs Luca Cassetti will meet with Mr Jorge Gerraras Gutierrez, Fiscal Attache of the Permanent Representation of Spain to the EU, and with Mr André Conde Morais, Fiscal Attache of the Permanent Representation of Portugal to the EU in order to discuss the position of the e-commerce industry with regard to the introduction of a Digital Services Tax. On 25 May, Ecommerce Europe will attend the event on the entry into application of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), hosted by the European Commission. Furthermore, the team will keep performing public affairs and lobbying activities. Please see below the policy highlights of the past week: The EP IMCO Committee held an exchange of views on Tackling Illegal Content Online On 16 May the EP IMCO Committee held an exchange of views with the European Commission on the Recommendation on tackling illegal content online. Irene Roche Laguna from the European Commission stressed that the Recommendation reflected the political need to act against terrorist content. She said that the Commission was monitoring the situation with regard to the self-regulatory measures by platforms and that cooperation between member states and platforms on sharing best practices was ongoing. MEP Dita Charanzova stressed that in her opinion, a Regulation on notice-and-action was necessary to avoid fragmentation even before the 6 months review by the Commission. MEP Anna Maria Corazza Bildt added that the legal framework created by the E-commerce Directive was no longer enough, but that she supported the Commission?s line on self-regulation if it produces results. MEP Julia Reda highlighted the risks of deleting legal content without authorities being informed, and also questioned the need for new measures considering there was already a Directive on terrorism that had not been fully implemented. The Commission stressed that more transparency was needed regarding the use of filter, and added that it was still exploring the necessity of a horizontal measure on notice-and-takedown. Ecommerce Europe is currently drafting a response to the online consultation on fighting against illegal content online that will run until 25 June. The EP IMCO Committee held an exchange of views on Promoting fairness and transparency for users of online intermediation services On 17 May the EP IMCO Committee members exchanged views with the European Commission on its proposal for Regulation on promoting fairness and transparency for users of online intermediation services. The EP IMCO Committee will be the lead Committee on the Proposal. The Commission highlighted the main aspects of the Proposal and insisted on the need for a Regulation that would restore a level playing field with clear and transparent rules without interfering with the business model of the platform. MEP Charanzova (ALDE) expressed her concern about this Regulation being an unnecessary burden on SMEs and startups and added that she was not in favor of an ex ante control if market forces and competition law could solve most of the issues raised by the Commission. Her view is that too much transparency could be harmful to both consumers and businesses. The Commission replied that the administrative burdens were limited and that neither the market nor competition law could solve the problems identified by the Commission. It also added that it hoped for an adoption before May 2019. The Council of the EU published a Presidency discussion paper on the platforms-to-business regulation On 15 May, the General Secretariat of the Council published a Presidency discussion paper on the Platforms-to-business relations. The document aims at presenting the proposal to National delegations ahead of the policy debate that will take place during the Competitiveness Council on 28 May. It summarizes the Commission?s proposal and presents what it qualifies as the ?two-step approach? consisting first in the proposed Regulation – that will ensure enhanced transparency and redress obligations – and followed by an in-depth monitoring effort that will contribute evidence to the review of the proposed Regulation three years after its adoption. The Secretariat asks Delegations to prepare for the upcoming Council by giving their opinion on the need to improve predictability and transparency and on the two-step approach. The discussions on the Digital Content Directive continue in trilogue On 16 May, the EP IMCO Committee held a meeting on the Directive on contracts for the supply of digital content. The Rapporteur Evelyne Gebhardt reported back to the Committee on the progress made during the trilogue and stated that an agreement had been reached with the Council regarding updates, the definition of prices, the termination of the contract and the implementation deadline that will be of 2 years and 3 months. While the Delegations continue to make progress, several issue remain open, such as the right to compensation (Article 14); IoT/software included in products ? where the European Parliament stands firm on its position that software in goods is the same as embedded content; and the level of harmonization, where the Council could consider targeted harmonization. The next trilogue will take place on 18 June. Commission?s Vice-President Andrus Ansip exchanged views with the EP IMCO Committee on the Digital Single Market During an exchange of views with the EP IMCO Committee, Vice-President Ansip discussed the Digital Single Market Strategy, Online Platforms and Artificial Intelligence. He stressed that out of the 29 Digital Single Market proposals, only 12 had been completed so far and that progress was unequal depending on the files. MEP Andreas Schwab stressed that he believed there was still a lot to be done on the Commission?s sector inquiry into e-commerce. MEP Nicola Danti also inquired about a possible re-opening of the eCommerce Directive. Andrus Ansip answered that platforms were already liable that it was easy to ?kill platforms with over-regulation?. Overall the business-to-platform proposal was well received, but MEPs insisted on the need to ensure European companies were capable of growing. The European Commission publishes the result of a screening on misleading practices by website selling telecoms services On 18 May, the European Commission and national consumer protection authorities published the results of an EU-wide screening of 207 websites offering fixed/mobile phone, internet, audio and video streaming services. The screening reveals that 163 of these websites could be infringing EU consumer law. Some of the most common issues identified are the advertisement of allegedly free or discounted packages that are in fact a bundled offer, the lack of a dispute resolution system, or the fact that these websites can unilaterally change the terms of the contract without information or justification to the consumer. For more information, you can consult the Q&A and the result of the screening. The EP ITRE Committee adopted a non-binding resolution on Distributed ledger technologies and blockchains On 16 May, the EP ITRE Committee adopted a non-binding resolutions calling for the application of blockchain to cut intermediation costs for small firm and ensure that transactions are executed efficiently. The resolution call on the EU Commission to propose a regulatory approach designed to promote different uses of blockchains and other Distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) that is innovation-friendly and technology neutral. You can consult the press release for more information.
For an overview of the latest e-commerce related news from Brussels, please have a look at the attachment: Ecommerce Europe Monitoring 08-05 to 14-05. Please note that last week, the European institutions were closed for holiday, therefore no new initiatives nor relevant legislative developments have been registered. This week, the Ecommerce Europe team will be engaged in the following meetings: On 16 May, Ecommerce Europe will attend the EuroCommerce?s Payment System Committee to discuss ongoing legislative developments, including PSD2 and the review of the Interchange Fee Regulation; On 17 May, the Director of Public Affairs Luca Cassetti will meet with Ms Edita Sainickaite, Fiscal Attache of the Permanent Representation of Lithuania to the EU, in order to discuss the position of the e-commerce industry with regard to the introduction of a Digital Services Tax. Furthermore, the team will keep performing public affairs and lobbying activities. Please see below the policy highlights of the past week: Ecommerce Europe will launch its first joint Workshop with Händlerbund on Digital Taxation and VAT in Berlin On 20 June, Ecommerce Europe and Händlerbund are organizing a workshop to discuss the plans of the European Union with regard to the taxation of the digital economy and the implementation of the VAT E-commerce Reform adopted in December 2017 by the EU Member States. This workshop is an occasion for participants to ask questions, exchange views and hear from European experts about the practical consequences that the adopted and upcoming EU legislation in the taxation area may have on the daily business of online merchants. This event will be the first of a series of workshops co-organized by Ecommerce Europe and national associations. Updated translations of the General Data Protection Regulation have been published A corrigendum of the official translations of the General Data Protection Regulation has also been published to address several mistakes in all EU languages. While the Corrigendum mostly addresses typos and clerical errors, some mistakes might affect the meaning of certain provisions. We therefore advise you to consult the applicable language version for you jurisdiction and not only the English version. For an overview of some correction made to the text, you can consult this article from IAPP. Ecommerce Europe to meet with Member States representatives on the Digital Tax In the past days, we have been setting up meetings with the Member States? Permanent Representations to the EU in charge of negotiating the two proposals on the taxation of the digital economy. The aim will be to present the position and the concerns of the e-commerce sector specifically with regard to the introduction of a Digital Services Tax, which is the short term temporary solution proposed by the European Commission. We will provide members with reports of the meetings we will have with the representatives of the EU Members States.
Dear Members of Ecommerce Europe, For an overview of the latest e-commerce related news from Brussels, please have a look at the attachment: Ecommerce Europe Monitoring 17-04 to 23-04. Tomorrow 24 April, Director of Public Affairs Luca Cassetti will attend an event organized by FEDMA in the Europen Parliament on the Privacy and the Digital Single Market. On 25 April, Public Affairs Advisor Juliette Beaulaton will attend the second edition of the BeCommerce B2B Summit. The BeCommerce B2B Summit is the event for Belgian and European e-commerce executives with a strong interest in innovative B2B online commerce and Artificial Intelligence. Furthermore, this week Ecommerce Europe will continue working on some follow-up activities related to the last Working Committees held on 12-13 April in Milan. Please see below the policy highlights of the past week: The European Commission publishes a Communication on the future of the retail sector On 19 April, the European Commission published a new Communication on a ?European Retail Sector fit for the 21st Century?. The Communication lays down best practices for Member States and operators to ensure that the retail sector adapts to the new challenges. The Communication provides best practices to address restrictions in retail affecting market performance, facilitate retail establishment and reduce operational restriction. The document insists particularly on the influence of the development of e-commerce on retail, for example in terms of consumer shopping habits, and on the need to ensure a level playing field between brick and mortar retail and e-commerce to ensure the growth of the retail sector. The Communication also identifies the increasingly blurry boundaries between offline and online. For more information, you can consult the Q&A and the Communication. We will further analyze the implications of this new communication and will provide a more detailed update. The European Commission organizes seminars on Fair Taxation in Member States On 19 April, the European Commission launched a series of 5 Seminars on Fair Taxation that will take place in different Member states during the summer to discuss the work of the institution on tax abuse, tax avoidance, but also the new Commission?s proposal on the fair taxation of the digital economy. The next seminar will take place in Vienna, Austria, on 17 May. For more information, you can consult DG TAXUD?s website. MEPs highlights the challenges created by digital companies in Competition Policy On 19 April, the European Parliament adopted its Annual Report on Competition Policy. The report highlights that digital companies constitute specific challenges for competition and fiscal authorities and Members of the European Parliament express their concerns over the use of personal data by tech companies for marketing and super profiling purpose and call for additional resources for the Directorate General for Competition. MEPs also call for a tax on digital companies on the basis of their genuine activity in Member States and to step up efforts to ensure fair competition in the digital sphere. The IMCO Committee of the EU Parliament will discuss important e-commerce related files Today and tomorrow, the IMCO Committee of the European Parliament will discuss important files related to e-commerce. The Members of the EU Parliament will have an exchange of views with Commissioner Věra Jourová, who will present her views on the latest developments on the two digital contracts proposals (digital content and goods) now under negotiation. Furthermore, she will present the New Deal for Consumers package, which contains two legislative proposals: one horizontal proposal amending four existing acts in the field of consumer and marketing law, and one proposal on representative actions for the protection of the collective interests of consumers, repealing the Injunctions Directive. There will also be a first exchange of views with MEP Julia Reda on the topic of ?tackling illegal content online?. A more detailed report will follow after the 2-day IMCO meeting. Update on interinstitutional negotiations on the Accessibility Act After the first exploratory trialogue on 5 March 2018, the second round of negotiations on 12 April allowed the three institutions to tackle certain issues of the proposed Directive in more depth, namely: standards and common technical specifications (Articles 13 and 14); fundamental alteration and disproportionate burden (Article 12 and Council?s Annex IV); the structure and overall approach of Annex I as well as the Council?s suggested new Annex Ia. The positions of the co-legislators on all three points were found to be converging and further work was delegated to technical level to finalize the corresponding text. The third trialogue meeting is scheduled for 15 May 2018.
For an overview of the latest e-commerce related news from Brussels, please have a look at the attachment: Ecommerce Europe Monitoring 10-04 to 16-04. On 19 April, Director of Public Affairs Luca Cassetti will be a speaker at the E-Commerce Week 2018, organized by UNCTAD in Geneve. Under the theme ?Development Dimensions of Digital Platforms?, the E-Commerce Week 2018 will explore the growing role of digital platforms and concrete steps to harnessing these evolving technologies for sustainable development. Furthermore, on 20 April, Senior Policy Advisor Léon Mölenberg will attend EuroCommerce Working Group to discuss the New Deal For Consumers. Furthermore, this week the Brussels team will follow up on last week’s Working Committee meetings held during the Members Days 2018 in Milan. Please see below the policy highlights of the past week: The European Commission published its ?New Deal for Consumers? Package On 11 April, the European Commission proposed its Package on ?a New Deal for Consumers?, composed of two proposals for Directives and a Communication. The first proposal on representative actions for the protection of the collective interests of consumers repeals the Injunctions Directive and aims at improving tools for stopping illegal practices and facilitating redress for consumers where there are widespread infringements of their rights. The second proposal amends EU Consumer Law (in particular four existing directives: the Directive on unfair terms in consumer contracts, the Directive on consumer protection in the indication of the prices of products offered to consumers, the Directive concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices and the Directive on consumer rights) and aims at improving the enforcement and modernizing EU consumer legislation in light of market developments, in particular the digital economy, as well as amending EU rules on penalties. The two proposals are accompanied by a Communication on the New Deal for Consumers. For more information, the European Commission published a series of factsheet explaining the changes these proposals will bring for consumers and businesses as well as a Q&A. Ecommerce Europe published a Press release, and is currently drafting a comprehensive position paper on the Package. The Council of the EU adopted the Parcel Delivery Regulation On 12 April, the Council of the EU adopted the provisional agreement reached on the Regulation on Cross-border Parcel Delivery with the European Parliament last December. The vote concludes the legislative procedure as the European Parliament adopted the text on 13 March. The regulation will be signed by both institutions and published in the EU Official Journal. It will enter into force 20 days after publication and apply as of 2019. The Article 29 Working Party published its revised guidelines on Transparency On 11 April, the Article 29 Working Party published its final Guidelines on transparency under the General Data Protection Regulation. The document is meant as a guidance on the new obligation of transparency concerning the processing of personal data under the GDPR. We are currently assessing the changes made by the WP29 compared to the previous version of the Guidelines and we will get back to you with a more detailed analysis. The Presidency of the Council published a revised text for the ePrivacy Regulation Ahead of the Working Party TELE of 19 April, the Bulgarian presidency of the Council published a new revised text of the ePrivacy Regulation. The Presidency has amended the text to first clarify the link with GDPR. It has also proposed to modify Article 6 to allow processing for purposes of network management and optimization and added new basis for processing for the purpose of statistical counting. The Presidency has also proposed amendments to clarify Article 8 and the protection of end-user?s terminal equipment information. In regards to Article 10 and Privacy settings, the Presidency has proposed to link the information on the settings to ?every update?, rather than the unclear provision on ?periodic interval? from the previous version. On direct marketing, the Presidency maintained its previous changes, proposing to leave Member States to decide, if they so wish, what is the appropriate time limit for using customers’ contact details for direct marketing. We will prepare a more detailed update on the amended proposal. Ecommerce Europe held successful Working Committee Meetings and Board meetings in Milan On 12 and 13 April, Ecommerce Europe travelled to Milan for its Working Committee meetings and the Executive Committee and Board of Directors meetings. On Thursday 12 April, the Board approved the appointment of two new members, Ms. Lorraine Higgins, CEO of Retail Excellence, and Mr. Janne Koivisto, Senior Advisor of the Finnish Commerce Federation, and the Brussels Team of Ecommerce Europe presented their plans for 2018. The Board of Directors was followed by the meeting of the e-Regulations Working Committee, where members discussed the Commission?s Digital Tax, the package for A New Deal for Consumers and questions related to data protection and e-Privacy. The next morning, members gathered for the Trustmark Working Committee meeting. In the afternoon, members were presented the new format of the e-Payments Working Committee, that will now extend its scope to Fintech and Artificial Intelligence and become the Digital Transactions & Innovation Working Committee.
For an overview of the latest e-commerce related news from Brussels, please have a look at the attachment: Ecommerce Europe Monitoring 04-04 to 09-04. Tomorrow, Ecommerce Europe will attend the Digital Days 2018, an initiative organized by the European Commission, that brings together ministers, representatives of EU countries, industry, academia and civil society representatives in order to encourage cooperation in artificial intelligence, blockchain, and innovation. Furthermore, from 11-13 April, the Brussels team will be in Milan for the Members Days 2018, this year kindly hosted by our Italian association Consorzio Netcomm. During the Members Days, Working Committees will be held as well. The Brussels team will update members on the latest legislative developments on e-Regulations and e-Payments, as welll as on the European Ecommerce Trustmark. Please see below the policy highlights of the past week: The European Commission is gathering data on the Implementation of the Interchange Fee Regulation The European Commission will publish an Implementation report on the Interchange Fee regulation in September 2019. The Commission?s investigation aims at assessing the consequences of the implementation of the regulation on stakeholders, including merchants and online merchants. It will explore data on increases/decreases in total fees paid by merchants (excluding commercial cards); overall transaction costs for debit, credit & commercial cards; identification and quantification of newly introduced acquiring fees, etc. EuroCommerce is currently gathering views through its Survey on the Interchange Fee Regulation. The results will be instrumental in providing the Commission precise inputs on merchants? experience with the Regulation. We therefore invite you to share the online survey with your members and ask them to participate. The current deadline for the EuroCommerce Survey is 20 April 2018. Eurostat published the results of its study on e-Commerce Eurostat published the result of its survey on the Digital Economy & Society in the EU. The chapter on e-commerce focuses both on people ordering goods and services online and businesses selling electronically. Eurostat concluded from its survey that e-shopping was on the rise in all age group but most notably for younger internet users. Eurostat also found out that the majority of e-shoppers (69 %) in the EU had not experienced any problems when ordering or buying online during the year prior to the 2017 survey. Those who identified problems mentioned delay in delivery and websites crashing. The European Commission published a Policy brief on the Coty Judgement The European Commission published a Competition Policy brief on EU competition rules and marketplace after the Coty Judgement (06/12/2017). The aim of this policy brief is to follow-up on the Report in relation to marketplace bans and to provide stakeholders with the view of DG Competition in the light of the Coty judgment. The Commission summarized the decision of the European Court of Justice, which held that marketplace restrictions taking the form of selective distribution systems could comply with EU Competition rules under certain criteria clarified in the judgement. The Commission added that it agreed and welcomed the interpretation of the ECJ, and that in DG Competition’s view, marketplace bans did not amount to a hardcore restriction. Ecommerce Europe goes to Milan for its Members Days and Working Committees meetings On 12 and 13 April, Ecommerce Europe will be organizing its Working Committees in Milan to discuss ongoing and upcoming regulatory developments in the EU. The e-Regulations Working Committee will cover a broad range of pressing issues, including the new Commission?s proposal on the taxation of the digital economy, as well as the upcoming package ?New Deal for Consumers? and the Proposal on online intermediation services and search engines. During the e-Payments Working Committee, members will discuss the implementation status of the Payment Services Directive, the new Fintech Action Plans and the Commission?s plans on Artificial Intelligence.
For an overview of the latest e-commerce related news from Brussels, please have a look at the attachment: Ecommerce Europe Monitoring 26-03 to 03-04. Please note that this week, the weekly policy update is exeptionally issued on Tuesday due to the Easter break. This week, the Brussels team is active in the finalization of the preparation of the upcoming Working Committees meetings that will take place in Milan next week, from 11-13 April. Please see below the policy highlights of the past week: A draft of the Proposal for a Directive on collective redress was leaked in the press The Draft Proposal is part of the upcoming package New Deal for Consumers. It aims at modernizing and replacing the current Injunctions Directive, by creating new rules on representative actions for the protection of collective interests of consumers. We are currently analyzing the leaked draft and we will prepare a more detailed update on the content of the Proposal. The Council continues its negotiations on the ePrivacy Regulation On 28 March, the Working Party TELE discussed the Presidency?s revised proposal for the ePrivacy Regulation. In its last Discussion Paper, the Presidency proposed amendments to Article 8 (Protection of end-users terminal equipment information), Article 10 (Privacy settings) and Article 16 (direct marketing communication). Considering the importance of those articles for the e-commerce sector, Ecommerce Europe requested a meeting with the Bulgarian Presidency to further discuss our views. However, considering their lack of availabilities, they could not grant us a face-to-face meeting. During the upcoming e-Regulations Working Committee that will take place on 12 April, members will discuss the position of the association in light of the new amendments on the above-mentioned articles. The Brussels Team will then prepare a new position paper to be sent out to all Permanent Representations in view of future negotiations. Trialogue negotiations on the Digital Content Directive are moving forward On 27 March, the Rapporteur for the Digital Content Directive MEP Evelyne Gebhardt reported back to the EP JURI Committee on the progress made during trialogues. She stated that negotiations had gone well, and that progress had been made on the question of updates and on the protection of data. The issues of the inclusion of embedded digital content in the scope and the level of harmonization are still open for discussion. Despite the differences of opinion on these two topics, the Rapporteur believes that an agreement could be reached before the end of the Bulgarian Presidency, which means before the end of June 2018. Ecommerce Europe sent its feedback on the Inception Impact Assessment on Illegal content online On Friday 30 March, Ecommerce Europe sent its feedback on the European Commission?s Inception Impact Assessment on illegal content online. EU Commission launched ?Consumer Law Ready? program for SMEs The European Commission has recently launched a portal, called ?Consumer Law Ready?, which is a specialist training program for people in SMEs. It is supposed to help SMEs understand and comply with the latest EU Consumer Laws. There are dedicated Consumer Law Ready portals for every country in the European Union. The training enables to gain knowledge of the important aspects of Consumer Law, which will help improving customer service and increase consumer trust. The portal is accessible at: https://www.consumerlawready.eu/. We invite you to share this link with your company members. Trialogues on the Accessibility Act The first trialogue meeting on the Accessibility Act was held on 5 March. While reporting back to the EP IMCO Committee, the Rapporteur on the file – MEP L?kkegaard – stated that the Council and the European Parliament outlined their position on key issues, such as the scope, accessibility requirements, operating systems and self-service terminals, as well as the exception for microenterprises. At a recent event on accessibility, a representative from the European Commission stressed that the three institutions have not the same position on the scope of directive. The next trialogue meeting will take place on 12 April. Regulation on Portability of online content now applicable in all EU As of 1 April 2018, the Regulation on the Portability of online content is applicable in all EU Member States. This Regulation aimed at ensure that Europeans can access content that they bought or subscribed to – such as films, e-book, music – when they travel or stay temporarily in another EU country. Ecommerce Europe was not involved with this Regulation as it was not a priority for our members. However, you can find more information in the European Commission?s factsheet.
For an overview of the latest e-commerce related news from Brussels, please have a look at the attachment: Ecommerce Europe Monitoring 20-03 to 26-03. Tomorrow 26 March, Ecommerce Europe will attend the API Evaluation Group. The group aims at evaluating standardized API specifications in order to help ensure that those standards are compliant with the requirements of the revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2) and meet the needs of all market participants. Furthermore, Director of Public Affairs Luca Cassetti will attend the Amazon Academy event. This time, the meeting will focus on accessibility and in particular on the latest accessibility innovation for customers. On 29 March, Ecommerce Europe will welcome a delegation from Morocco for an informal discussion on the European legislation in the e-commerce sector and the role of the association in elaborating public affairs strategies to stimulate regional and cross-border e-commerce. Finally, the Brussels team will continue the preparation of the upcoming Working Committees meetings that will take place in Milan from 11-13 April. Please see below the policy highlights of the past week: The European Commission published two proposals on the taxation of digital business activities in the EU On 21 March, the European Commission published two proposals for new rules for the taxation of digital business activities in the EU. The first proposed Directive aims to reform corporate tax rules so that profits are registered and taxed where businesses have significant interaction with users through digital channels. This forms the Commission’s preferred long-term solution, while the second proposal responds to calls from several Member States for an ?interim tax? which covers the main digital activities that currently escape tax altogether in the EU. The legislative proposals will be submitted to the Council of the EU for adoption (unanimity is needed) and to the European Parliament for consultation. The EU will also continue to actively contribute to the global discussions on digital taxation within the G20/OECD, and push for ambitious international solutions. Ecommerce Europe sent a letter to the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker to share our preliminary opinion on 5 March. EU Commissioner Moscovici replied to our letter on the Digital Services Tax Last Friday afternoon, one day after the publication of the European Commission?s proposals, Ecommerce Europe received a letter from Pierre Moscovici – the Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs – in reply to the letter that we sent to the President of the Commission. In the letter, it is clearly mentioned that any discussion about the specific content of the proposals can only take place once such legislative acts have been adopted (which happened on 21 March), and that is why our concerns are not specifically addressed by the Commissioner. Nevertheless, the letter clearly shows that the Commission?s intention to work with us on this project. Ecommerce Europe is currently analyzing the content of both proposals, which will be presented at the next meeting of the e-Regulations Working Committee on 12 April in Milan. The New Deal for Consumers Package has leaked One of the proposals of the upcoming New Deal for Consumers Package has leaked. The draft directiveconcerns the targeted amendments the Commission wishes to propose to modify the Consumer Rights Directive, the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, the Unfair Contract Terms Directive and the Price Indication Directive. The proposal aims at creating more effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties for widespread cross-border infringements, by allowing national authorities to impose fine of at least 4% of the trader?s turnover for widespread infringements. It also envisages that consumers should have the right to individual remedies. The proposal aims at bringing more transparency for consumers in online marketplaces, by creating additional information requirements, including information about the criteria for ranking, the entity with which the contract is concluded as well whether consumer protection legislation applies. As expected, the proposal also removes two specific obligations regarding the right of withdrawal: the obligation to accept this right even where a consumer has made actual use of an ordered good and reimbursing before receiving. A new point has been added compared to what was previously announced by the European Commission, concerning the extension of the Consumer Rights Directive to digital services for which consumers provide personal data instead of paying with money. The Commission considers that consumers should have the same rights to pre-contractual information and to cancel within 14 days right of withdrawal period. The Bulgarian Presidency published a new discussion paper on the ePrivacy Regulation Ahead of the Working Party TELE meeting on 28 March, the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council published a new Presidency discussion paper which includes a revised text of the ePrivacy proposal, focusing on Article 8,10, 15 and 16 and related recitals. The Presidency is also seeking comments article 18 to 29 to pursue the discussion in upcoming Working Party TELE meetings. Specifically on Article 10 on Privacy settings, the Presidency has proposed to amend it: the provision now requires information to be provided to the end-user about the possibility to choose a setting, without however prompting the end-user to agree with the settings upon installation or first usage of the browser. The Presidency has also proposed to include periodic reminders about the privacy settings. The Presidency has also amended the Article 16 on Direct marketing communication: a new paragraph allows Member States to set a time limit for using customers’ contact details for direct marketing. To address concerns that online advertising would be captured by the provisions on direct marketing, the new text of Article 16 explicitly excludes advertisements on websites that are displayed to the general public and do not require end-users’ contact details. The discussions on the Digital Content Directive continue in trialogues On 21 March, the Rapporteur for the Proposal for a Directive on Contracts for the supply of digital content, MEP Evelyne Gebhardt (S&D, DE) reported back to the IMCO Committee of the European Parliament about the outcome of last trialogue negotiations on the Digital Content Directive. The MEP mentioned that an agreement has been found on most of the issues, but that three questions remain open for discussion: software embedded in goods, the degree of harmonization regarding guarantee period, and the question of data protection. You can find more information in the article that we published today on our website. Ecommerce Europe attended a European Commission?s Expert Group on GDPR On 20 March, Léon Mölenberg – Senior Policy Advisor for Ecommerce Europe – attended the 2nd meeting of the European Commission?s Expert Group to support the application of the General Data Protection Regulation. The Commission presented an overview of the implementation, stressing that while only 3 countries had already implemented the new rules, most countries should be ready by 25 May. The Commission mentioned that it was not planning on proposing delegated acts on the GDPR for the moment. Participants asked the Commission if it would be possible to obtain an overview of all the parts of the regulation where member States are allowed to go further, and the Commission assured that it will deliver this document as soon as possible. Regarding raising awareness among citizens and SMEs, the Commission asked participants to share again their guidance website, which now includes documents in 22 languages and a lists of National Data Protection Authorities. The Commission welcomes feedbacks on the toolkits from companies. European Commission published extensive Q&A on the Geo-blocking Regulation For a better understanding of the Regulation on Geo-blocking, which will apply as of 3 December 2018, the European Commission has recently published some material that is supposed to facilitate compliance. Please feel free to share it with your members, especially the extensive Q&A document. This document is provided by the Commission services for information purposes only. It does not contain any authoritative interpretation of the Geo-blocking Regulation and it does not constitute a decision or position of the Commission. The Commission published the full text of the Regulation, the Extensive Q&A document on the Geo-blocking Regulation as well as the 10 Key Features of the Geo-blocking Regulation. The European Commission publishes a Notice regarding the Geo-blocking Regulation after Brexit The European Commission published a Notice to Stakeholders regarding the withdrawal of the United Kingdom and the EU legislation in the field of geo-blocking. According to the document, as of the withdrawal date, natural persons residing in the United Kingdom (unless they have a nationality of a Member State) or undertakings established in the United Kingdom will not be able to benefit from Regulation. For traders, considering the Geo-blocking Regulation applies to all traders operating within the EU, regardless of whether those traders are established in the EU or in a third country, will continue to be bound by the rules established by the Regulation.
For an overview of the latest e-commerce related news from Brussels, please have a look at the attachment: Ecommerce Europe Monitoring 13-03 to 19-03. Tomorrow 20 March, Senior Policy Advisor Léon Mölenberg will attend the 2nd meeting of the Multistakeholder expert group to support the application of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Among the topics on the agenda, the state of play in relation to the the entry into application of the GDPR and awareness-raising activities towards business and citizens related to the application of the GDPR. Furthermore, this week the Brussels team will continue the preparation of the upcoming Working Committees meetings that will take place in Milan from 11-13 April. Please see below the policy highlights of the past week: New leaked draft of the upcoming Regulation on platforms Ecommerce Europe received a new leaked version of the upcoming draft Proposal for a Regulation on promoting fairness and transparency for business users of online intermediation services and online search engines in the Digital Single Market. Compared to the previous version we analyzed, the scope has been extended to include online search engines and comparison websites. There has been some modification concerning Ranking, with a new section on online search engines and additional safeguards regarding protecting trade secrets. The European Commission also added precision to the article on Access to data and the article on Internal complaint-handling system. The text will still likely be modified before the expected publication of the official text, expected on 25 April. New leaked draft of the Proposal for a Directive on the Digital Service Tax and OECD Interim Report on ?Tax Challenges arising from Digitalization? Ecommerce Europe received the leaked Directive on the Digital Services Tax (DST), which is expected to be published by the European Commission on 21 March. We are currently evaluating if our concerns have been addressed in this new version. To request a copy of the leaked document, please contact Luca Cassetti (email@example.com). On the same topic, on Friday 16 March, the OECD held a webinar to present their 2018 Interim Report on ?Tax Challenges arising from Digitalization?. During the presentation of the Interim Report, the Task Force on the Digital Economy of the OECD stressed that there was no consensus on the need for, or merit of, interim measures, and that therefore the report did not recommend their introduction. The OECD is aiming at proposing a consensus-based solution by 2020. You can find the full report and a summary of the report online. Ecommerce Europe gathered more information on the package New Deal for Consumers Ecommerce Europe has gathered additional details on the upcoming package New Deal for Consumers, which is supposed to be published by the European Commission on 11 April 2018. The package will include measures on penalties and changes to the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, including the introduction by Member States of penalties for the violations of the consumer law and remedies for individual consumers for breaches of the UCPD. The package will also include changes to the Consumer Rights Directive, such as to the Right to withdrawal and the introduction of transparency rules for marketplaces, as well as introduce new measures on collective redress. European Parliament adopted the Parcel Delivery Regulation On 13 March, the European Parliament?s plenary adopted the interinstitutional agreement on the Regulation for cross-border parcel delivery services. The text now needs the endorsement of the Council of the EU and will become fully applicable in 2019. For more information, you can consult the European Parliament?s press release and you can find the final text of the Regulation here. European Parliament adopted two resolutions on Corporate Tax Base On 15 March, Members of the Parliament adopted two resolutions on the ?Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base? and the ?Common Corporate Tax Base?, aiming at creating a single EU corporate tax regime and harmonized corporate tax system. The resolutions introduce the concept of ?Digital presence? and invite the Commission to prepare and set out benchmarks which would help identify whether a firm has a ?digital presence? within an EU Member State and is therefore liable for tax on the territory. European Banking Authority published its roadmap on Fintech On 15 March, the EBA published its roadmap on Fintech, setting out its priorities for 2018-2019 and focusing on monitoring the regulatory perimeter, including assessing current authorization and licensing approaches to FinTech firms; monitoring emerging trends and analyzing the impact on incumbent institutions’ business models; promoting best supervisory practices on assessing cybersecurity and promoting a common cyber threat testing framework and addressing consumer issues arising from FinTech and identifying and assessing money laundering/terrorist financing risks. Regulatory Technical Standards on Strong Customer Authentication have been published in the EU Official Journal The Regulatory Technical Standards on ?strong customer authentication and common and secure open standards of communication? have been published in the EU Official Journal On 13 March. The Regulatory Technical Standards will apply in September 2019.
For an overview of the latest e-commerce related news from Brussels, please have a look at the attachment: Ecommerce Europe Monitoring 06-03 to 12-03. This week, the Brussels team will start the preparation of the upcoming Working Committees meetings that will take place in Milan from 11-13 April. As usual, the team will keep performing public affairs and lobbying activities. Please see below the policy highlights of the past week: EU Commission President Juncker replies to Ecommerce Europe?s letter on the fair taxation of the digital economy The President of the European Commission, Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, thanked Ecommerce Europe for the letter we sent him on 5 March 2018 in relation to the Commission’s ongoing preparation of a measure for the fair and effective taxation of the digital economy and its potential negative impact on EU merchants. The Head of Cabinet, Ms. Clara Martinez Alberola, confirmed that the President has taken note of the content of the letter with attention and that the Member of the Commission responsible for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, Mr. Pierre Moscovici, is looking into the points we have raised and will respond to us rapidly. The Bulgarian Presidency published a revised text of the ePrivacy Regulation Ahead of the next Working Party TELE meeting on 13 March, the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU published a revised text. The Presidency proposed amendments regarding the link to GDPR, ancillary services, machine-to-machine communication and consent. The Presidency also amended the article 1(3) to delete the phrase ‘electronic communications’ to signal that the ePrivacy regulation does not deal only with personal data that are electronic communications data but also with other types of personal data. The Presidency proposed elements for consideration regarding future discussion on permitted processing of metadata. The text reveals that some delegations expressed interest in exploring the option to expand the permitted processing of electronic communications metadata and the legality of such option. However, some delegations were satisfied with the current solutions, and a few others favored the introduction of legitimate interest in line with the GDPR. The European Commission published its Action Plan on Fintech On 8 March, the European Commission published its Action plan on Fintech that includes a series of initiatives aiming at supporting innovative business models to scale up, encourage the uptake of new technologies in the financial sector and increase cybersecurity. Based on the conclusion of the public consultation that ended in June 2017, the European Commission believes that the case for ?broad legislative or regulatory action or reform at EU level? on FinTech issues is limited, but that a number of targeted initiatives are warranted. The Commission plans, among other things, to report on challenges and opportunity of crypto assets later this year, and will work on comprehensive strategy on distributed ledger economy and blockchain. For more information, you can consult the Commission?s press releaseand the Action Plan. EuroCommerce published a FAQ on the Geo-blocking Regulation On 2 March, the Geo-blocking Regulation has been officially published in the Official Journal of the EU and will be applicable as of 3 December 2018. You can consult the official text here. During the past weeks, EuroCommerce gathered feedback from its members in order to developed a FAQ explaining the key rules applicable to the sector and giving concrete example to facilitate compliance. You are invited to send the FAQ document to your members as well. The European Commission launched its internal inter-service consultation for the draft package New Deal for Consumers On 5 March, the European Commission launched its internal inter-service consultation for the draft package New Deal for Consumers. The Commission aims at publishing the package on 11 April. According to the latest information we received, the package could include penalties for breaches of consumer law, individual remedies, restriction of commercial activity, a clarification of the right of withdrawal and collective redress. The European Commission launched a call for experts for a group on liability and new technologies On 9 March, the European Commission launched a call for expert for a group on liability and new technologies. The main tasks of the Expert Group will be to provide the Commission with expertise on the applicability of the Product Liability Directive to traditional products, new technologies and new societal challenges (Product Liability Directive formation) and, in light of an assessment of the existing liability schemes, assist the Commission in developing principles that can serve as guidelines for possible adaptations of applicable laws at EU and national level relating to new technologies (New Technologies formation). For more information, you can consult the press release. The deadline for application in 30 April 2018. The European Commission launched a call for a High-level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence On 9 March, the European Commission launched a call to apply for a High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence. The general objective of the group shall be to support the implementation of the European strategy on AI. This will include the elaboration of recommendations on future AI-related policy development and on ethical, legal and societal issues related to AI, including socio-economic challenges. Ecommerce Europe will assess the need to submit an application. For more information, you can consult the Commission?s open call. The deadline for application is 9 April. The European Parliament Research services have published a report on ?The collaborative economy and taxation? The European Parliament Research services prepared a report addressed to Members and staff of the European Parliament on taxing the value created in the collaborative economy. This report will likely feed the discussion on the upcoming proposal on the Fair taxation of the digital economy that is expected to be published on 21 March. For more information, you can consult the report. The European Commission published it 2017 Report on the Rapid Alert System The European Commission published it 2017 report on the Rapid Alert System. The report shows that in 2017, the Rapid Alert System was increasingly used by national authorities with more than 2,000 alerts on dangerous products circulated through the system. For more information, you can consult the report.
For an overview of the latest e-commerce related news from Brussels, please have a look at the attachment: Ecommerce Europe Monitoring 27-02 to 05-03. This week, the Brussels team will be attending some events and conferences. In particular, on 6 March, Senior Policy Advisor Léon Mölenberg will be a panelist in the Public Policy Exchange’s conference on “Enhancing Consumer Protection in the EU: Preserving Consumers? Rights in the Digital Society”. The discussion will focus, among other topics, on:
- The latest developments concerning the European legislative framework on consumer protection;
- How to better enforce consumer protection laws,
- Solutions for efficient and effective remedies against consumer rights infringements and
- New ways to integrate consumer interests into the Digital Space.
For an overview of the latest e-commerce related news from Brussels, please have a look at the attachment: Ecommerce Europe Monitoring 20-02 to 26-02. This week, the Brussels team will be attending several events and conferences. On 27 February: Director of Public Affairs Luca Cassetti will attend the GS1 Global Forum marketplace networking event where he will exchange views with delegated from around the world on best practices in the world of e-commerce. Public Affairs Advisor on e-Payments Pascal König will speak at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. He will be a speaker in the panel on “The possibilities brought by PSD2: an open API economy accelerator”. Senior Policy Advisor Léon Mölenberg will attend the EuroCommerce Internal Market Working Committee where the discussion will focus on the New Deal for Consumers, the latest updates on geo-blocking and the digital contracts proposals. Juliette Beaulaton will attend the 2nd Annual Conference on ?Fintech and Digital Innovation: Regulation at the European level and beyond?. On the agenda, the role of artificial intelligence in financial services, the place for standard setting in Fintech, and how new technologies such as RegTech can contribute to the effective compliance and enforcement of financial services regulation. On 1 March, Ecommerce Europe will welcome the members of the e-Regulations Working Committee for a Working Group on VAT and taxation (upon invitation only). As usual, the Brussels team will continue performing public affairs activities. Please see below the policy highlights of the past week: The EP IMCO Committee adopted its Report on the Sales of Goods Directive On 22 February, the European Parliament?s IMCO Committee adopted the Report on the amended Proposal for a Directive on certain aspects concerning contracts for the sales of goods (Sales of Goods Directive), drafted by MEP Pascal Arimont. The Committee also adopted the decision to enter into interinstitutional negotiations as soon as the Council will adopt its position on the Directive. The Report shows that the IMCO Committee clearly took into considerations some of our recommendations, which were shared also by other industry/business associations, with a few differences. Unfortunately, for some other elements, the Report fails in achieving a high degree of harmonization and does not clarify the scope of the Directive. Ecommerce Europe is now focusing is lobbying activities on the representative of the Member States, in view of the definition of the position of the Council. The Report is not yet available, but you can consult the European Parliament?s Press release and/or contact Luca Cassetti (firstname.lastname@example.org) for additional information. Ecommerce Europe shared recommendations with the EP IMCO Committee Members in view of the vote on the Report on the Sales of Goods Directive On 20 February, Ecommerce Europe sent an e-mail to the Members of the European Parliament?s IMCO Committee in view of the vote on the Draft Report of MEP Pascal Arimont on the Sales of Goods Directive, scheduled for tomorrow morning, to share our recommendations and concerns. We called on policymakers to support a fully harmonized approach for this directive, namely full harmonization of the legal guarantee period at 2 years all over the EU, and an alignment of rules for the sale of goods and the supply of digital content. As other EU industry associations, we also mentioned that 1 year for the reversal of the burden of proof would be a reasonable compromise and that commercial guarantees should remain a voluntary tool for producers. The Bulgarian Presidency of the Council made public a new Discussion paper on the ePrivacy Regulation The Bulgarian presidency published the Discussion paper that was examined during the Working Party TELE on 12 February. The Presidency discussion paper concerns Articles 2 (excluding some activities falling outside the scope of the e-Privacy Regulation) and article 11 (allowing the EU and Member States, under certain conditions, to restrict the rights and obligations provided in the ePrivacy regulation by means of legislative measures) of the proposal for a Regulation. The purpose of the discussion paper was to clarify the scope and link between article 2 and 11 as well as the list of general public interests referred to in Article 11(1) of the proposal. It sought delegations? opinion on several options to pursue the discussion. The Council of the EU will approve the informal agreement on the Geo-blocking Regulation tomorrow The Council will adopt the final version of the Geo-blocking Regulation during the General Affairs Council tomorrow morning. As the European Parliament already adopted the text on 7 February, it will now enter into force 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union and will apply as from nine months after the publication. You can find here tomorrow?s Council of the EU agenda. The trialogue negotiations on the Digital Content Directive move ahead despite remaining disagreements On 21 February, the EP IMCO Rapporteur Evelyn Gebhardt reported back to the EP IMCO Committee on the last trialogue on the Digital Content Directive. The negotiations are moving smoothly on most of the issues, and the Rapporteur is still hoping to reach an informal agreement by mid-2018. However, negotiators are still having difficulties in reaching a compromise on several points, including the harmonization of the period for the reversal of the burden of proof and the extension of the scope to embedded digital content. MEP Gebhardt added that the European Parliament will continue to push for full harmonization as a key objective of the Directive. The next trialogue will take place on 6 March. The EP JURI Committee held a hearing on Collective Redress On 21 February, the EP JURI Committee invited the European Commission as well as representatives from BEUC and Business Europe to discuss the work of the Commission on collective redress so far and the upcoming revision of the Injunctions Directive. The Commission is exploring the idea of extending the scope, since consumer interests are protected not only by consumer law, but also by legislations in other areas, including energy, environment, telecom, financial services. Concerning the level of harmonization, the Commission wants to take into account the legal culture of each Member States, so it will try to introduce flexible instruments to ensure relevant safeguard, while maintaining Member States? freedom to keep their collective redress mechanisms.