This 1st event will focus on the most pertinent issues for the E-Commerce sector including privacy, security, advertising, competition policy and intellectual property. Key speakers are already confirmed including representatives from the European Commission, EU Parliament, the European consumer association BEUC, Amazon, eBay, Google, Microsoft, Visa, Phorm, MAQS, Symantec and many others (see list below). They will discuss what the new e-commerce pathway will look like, particularly given the changing Commission and Parliament, how far European policy making has come in respect of the regulation (or not) of the digital domain and what steps can be made to improve and support e-commerce as a potential driver for economic and social improvement.
Save €200 by registering before 6th October.
The conference which is supported by EMOTA will provide a consistent Brussels based platform and meeting point for all stakeholders involved in e-commerce.
Given the horizontal nature of e-commerce and its emergence as a key part of the European and global economy, the range of issues discussed will be of relevance to those operating in many sectors including financial services, telecoms operators, transportation and logistics, internet service providers, security and privacy operators, goods manufacturers and many, many more.
Confirmed speakers include:
- Malcolm Harbour, Member, European Parliament (Chairman of the EP’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee)
- Jacqueline Minor, Director, Consumer Affairs, DG SANCO, European Commission
- Monique Goyens, Director General, BEUC (consumer organization)
- Patrick van Eecke, Partner, DLA Piper
- Andrew Cecil, Director Public Policy Europe, Amazon
- Sebastian Mueller, European Policy Manager, Google
- Stuart Cooke, Senior Director, Industry Associations & Standards, Qualcomm
- Brooks Dobbs, Chief Privacy Officer, Phorm
- Thomas Myrup Kristensen, EU Internet Policy Director Corporate Affairs, LCA, Microsoft Europe
- Andrea Servida, Deputy Head of the Unit, Internet, Network and Information Security, DG INFSO, European Commission
- Rosa Barcelo, Adviser, European Data Protection Supervisor
- Peter Møller-Jensen, EU Government Affairs Director, VISA Europe
- Alastair Mitchell, CEO and co-founder, Huddle.net
- Brendan Reilly, Head of Northern European country product management, Deutsche Bank
- Luke Hendrickx, Director, Competitiveness of Enterprises & External Relations, UEAPME
- Monique Wadsted, Partner, MAQS Law Firm
- Alvydas Stancikas, Head of Unit, Enforcement of Industrial and Intellectual Property Rights, DG MARKT, European Commission
- Paul Excell, Chief Innovation Officer, BT
- Claude Rakovsky, Head of Unit, Antitrust and Mergers Policy and Scrutiny, DG COMP, European Commission
- James Waterworth, EU Affairs Director, Nokia & President, EDiMA
The clampdown covered 369 websites selling six of the most popular electronic goods to consumers in the EU – digital cameras, mobile phones, personal music players, DVD players, computer equipment and game consoles. It covered 200 of the biggest websites selling electronic equipment in the EU as well as more than 100 websites which were targeted on the basis of consumer complaints. The results of the checks carried out in May this year show that 55% of the websites investigated showed irregularities in particular relating to: misleading information about consumer rights; misleading information about the total cost of the product; or incomplete contact details for the trader. The initial checks by national authorities will now be followed by an enforcement phase when companies are contacted by national authorities and required to correct their websites or clarify their position. At this first stage, three countries – Iceland, Latvia and Norway – have published names of the websites covered by the investigation (see MEMO/09/379 ).
EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva said: "We targeted websites selling electronic goods because I know from my own mail bag, and we know from the level of complaints coming into European Consumer Centres that these are a real problem area for consumers. We discovered that more than half of the retailers selling on-line electronic goods are letting consumers down. This is a Europe-wide problem which needs a European solution. There is a lot of work to be done in the months ahead to clean up this sector, Europe’s consumers deserve better."
The electronics goods market
The value of online retail sales of consumer electronic goods in Europe is ca. € 6.8 billion (2007), and about one in four EU consumers who ever bought anything online bought an electronic product (including cameras). More than a third of complaints regarding online sales handled by the European Consumer Centre Network in 2007, concerned the purchase of electronic equipment.
The sweep investigation
In May 2009, national enforcers (co-ordinated by the European Commission) checked websites selling electronic goods for compliance with three crucial EU consumer laws: the Distance Selling Directive, the e-Commerce Directive, and the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (see MEMO/09/379 for more details).
The sweep investigation focused on 3 key areas:
1. Contact information for the trader: Under EU law, there must be complete information about the name, geographical address and email address of the trader.
2. Clear information about the offer (total price and clear product description): Under EU consumer law the online traders must provide clear information about the characteristics of the product, as well as the total cost (including taxes), all extra delivery costs and payment arrangements. The final price to pay must be the same as stated in the information provided before the purchase.
3. Clear information about consumer rights: Under EU law, consumers must be provided with information about their EU "right to return" i. e. a good bought at a distance can be returned within a minimum of 7 days without giving a reason. The investigation also checked the accuracy of additional information provided about consumer rights e.g. warrantees, refunds.
The results of the sweep investigation were as follows:
55% of the 369 checked websites showed irregularities which are being investigated further. 13 % of the problematic sites will require cross border co-operation between national authorities. The most common problems found were:
Misleading information about consumer rights (66% of problem websites) Buyers were either not informed at all or misinformed about their "right to return" – the right to cancel an order bought a distance within a minimum of 7 days and return the product without giving a reason. For example, they were told that the trader would not accept the product back, or that they could only have credit rather than cash refund. In other cases, consumers were misled about their right to have a faulty product repaired or replaced for at least 2 years after the purchase (e.g. they were told that they only had this right for one year).
Misleading information about the total price (45% of problem websites). For example, information on the extra delivery charges was either missing or difficult to find. The extras were then added only at the final payment stage. Some other websites went as far as promising "free delivery" or an "all inclusive" deal, even though delivery charges were in fact applied.
Missing or incomplete contact details of the trader (33 % of the problem websites). Details of the trader’s name, geographical address or e-mail address were missing or incomplete, so that they could not be contacted in case of problems.
What happens next?
Traders will be contacted by the national authorities and asked to clarify their position or correct the problems identified. Failure to bring a website in line with the law can result in legal action leading to fines or websites being closed. The EU wide enforcement results will be presented by mid-2010.
Samples of good and bad websites selling electronic goods:
Roaming: Vote in European Parliament paves way for swift agreement on lower SMS and data roaming charges
The Commission proposed in September 2008 (see IP/08/1386) to make sure that consumers in the EU do not have to pay more than €0.11 per roamed SMS in the EU (excluding VAT) – a proposal endorsed yesterday by the Parliament’s lead Committee on the new roaming legislation. At present, SMS roaming charges in the EU are on average €0.28 per roamed SMS and can go up to over €0.80 in some countries. The Parliament’s Committee also voted in favour of ambitious measures to reduce the cost of data roaming charges (the cost for surfing the web or downloading data via a mobile connection abroad). To pave the way for lower consumer charges, the Industry Committee voted in favour of a cap on inter-operator charges of €0.50 per megabyte of roamed data. The Commission had proposed such a cap, but at €1 per megabyte. The Parliament’s lead Committee on the new roaming legislation also endorsed measures to enhance the transparency of roaming charges to eliminate the risk of "bill shocks" for data roaming. Finally the Industry Committee voted for an obligation of operators to charge roamed calls by the second from the first second of a mobile call abroad (Commission proposal: from the 31st second). The Commission had identified that consumers currently pay around 20% too much for roamed calls abroad because of imprecise billing methods.
"Yesterday’s vote in the European Parliament is very good news for consumers all over Europe. In view of the current economic downturn, the Parliament is right in wanting to strengthen the purchasing power of European consumers as of this summer, which will encourage them to make even more use of their mobile phones", said Viviane Reding, the EU’s Telecoms Commissioner, who had initiated the new roaming legislation and attended the Committee vote in Strasbourg yesterday evening. "I welcome the fact that the Parliament’s lead Committee on the new roaming rules yesterday evening voted in favour of all the main points of the Commission proposal. I congratulate Adina-Ioana Valean, the Parliament’s Rapporteur on roaming in the Industry Committee, for the impressive negotiation skills she has shown over the past months. I would also like to thank Syed Kamall, the Parliament’s Rapporteur on roaming in the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee for his constructive work ensuring that both consumers and businesses can benefit from a practically borderless and transparent single telecoms market for roaming. I would also like to extend my thanks to the Rapporteur of the Culture and Education Committee, Manolis Mavromatis, for his strong support for the Commission proposal."
Yesterday’s vote by the Parliament’s Industry Committee endorsed, by majority vote, all the main features of the Commission’s proposal for new roaming rules, from the €0.11 retail cap for roamed text messages to new transparency obligations. The Industry Committee also supported the principle, proposed by the Commission, that voice roaming calls must be billed by the second. Following the proposal of the Internal Market Committee last week, the Industry Committee voted for an amendment to ensure that this principle applies from the very first second of a roamed call.
The Industry Committee has proposed two further changes to the Commission’s proposal:
- A data roaming wholesale (inter-operator) cap of €0.50 per megabyte. The Commission had proposed a wholesale cap at €1 per megabyte, while the Parliament’s Internal Market Committee had suggested a wholesale cap at €0.25 per megabyte.
- Ending the whole roaming legislation in June 2012, while the Commission had proposed a review in 2013. The Industry Committee proposal would allow the next Commission to review the new rules in the middle of its 5-year mandate.
"I now call on Parliamentarians and Member States to work together very closely over the coming weeks to ensure that the final deal on SMS and data roaming can be concluded well before the European Parliament elections in June", said Commissioner Reding.
The 785 members of the European Parliament will vote in their plenary session scheduled 21-24 April, on the roaming proposal. If the Council agrees with the content of the vote, the new roaming rules will come into effect on 1 July 2009.
On 23 September 2008, the Commission proposed a new Roaming Regulation that would cut by 60% the cost of sending text messages while roaming in the EU (IP/08/1386, MEMO/08/578). It would also reduce the price for using mobile data services abroad and introduce transparency measures against bill shocks. Moreover, the Commission proposed to extend the duration of the current voice roaming Regulation from 2010 to 2013 reducing roaming caps for mobile calls further by €0.03 each year (now at €0.46 for calls made abroad and €0.22 for calls received abroad which would be further reduced to €0.34 for calls made abroad and to €0.10 for calls received abroad by 1 July 2012 [excluding VAT]).
The Council of the EU’s 27 Telecoms Ministers had already endorsed all elements of the Commission proposal on 27 November 2008 (MEMO/08/745).
If you want to know how much you pay while travelling in the EU for a call received/ made, for an SMS sent or megabyte downloaded, visit the EU’s Roaming website which offers an overview of tariffs per country in the EU: