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E-commerce

The Single Market places a world of opportunity at the fingertips of both consumers and companies. Yet in practice it is not always easy to make the most of these chances. Companies and consumers need to be aware of diverse issues such as VAT duties, consumer protection, data protection, cross-border payment systems etc. For consumers, having access to a wider range of goods and services at more competitive prices is a huge benefit of e-commerce. All too often, however, you are redirected to the website of your country of origin, youre not given access to all of the offers, your foreign bank card is refused, or delivery costs are too high, and you just dont know where to turn in case of problems. For cultural offerings such as films or music, what is on offer legally is often insufficient, and you are sometimes prevented from downloading films or music in another EU country. Why do these obstacles exist in a Single Market? What can be done to reduce them? After all, EU law already forbids discrimination based on nationality or country of residence, which should make cross-border purchases and payments easier and provide dispute resolution mechanisms. One example of persistent problems encountered with e-commerce transactions across the EU is that of delivery. The postage costs are often high, and how would you return a package if the product did not meet your needs? Wouldnt you like to pay less for delivery between two neighbouring countries, receive your packages quicker when you buy online, and be informed when your package is due to arrive? We would like to hear your ideas on these and other topics in order to improve EU policy. Another example of Internet activity to which EU protection extends is social media. For citizens across the EU, communicating with friends and family on social media is a part of daily life. Do you share thoughts, photos etc on online platforms? EU law exists to protect your private data from abusive use, as well as to protect individual liberties and ensure respect for the law. Are these the right laws in your view? Should the EU do more or less to offer protection to citizens on the Internet?

Join in the debate on e-commerce between 14 and 16 October and have your voice heard.

Facts and figures: E-commerce


The EU is the second largest region, behind Asia, in terms of numbers of internet users, with more than 380 million users. 76 % of all EU households are connected to the internet. More than half of EU citizens access the internet at least once a day (53 %); a substantial minority (29 %) say that they never access the internet. A third of EU citizens do not have internet access at home, which could be a physical barrier to accessing content. Around half of internet users in the EU say they buy goods o services online (53 %), use social networks sites (52 %), or do online banking (48 %), while 20 % sell goods or services. Only 45 % of Single Market citizens have shopped online in the past year. Parcel deliveries to another EU country are on average twice as high as domestic benchmark prices, while for packets, which are part of letter mail, they are about 30 % higher. Most EU citizens do not feel very or at all well informed about the risks of cybercrime (59 %), while 38 % say they are very or fairly well informed. 12 % of internet users across the EU have experienced online fraud, and 8 % have experienced identity theft. 13 % have not been able to access online services because of cyber-attacks. 74 % of European see disclosing personal information as an increasing part of modern life. Just over a quarter of social network users (26 %) and even fewer online shoppers (18 %) feel in complete control of their data.