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European Commission issues e-commerce package of Digital Single Market initiatives

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Brussels, 23 May 2016

The European Commission  tabled a package of measures to allow consumers and companies to buy and sell products and services online more easily and confidently across the EU. Delivering on its Digital Single Market and Single Market strategies, the European Commission has presented a three-pronged plan to boost e-commerce by tackling geoblocking, making cross-border parcel delivery more affordable and efficient and promoting customer trust through better protection and enforcement.

The European Commission also proposed an update of EU audiovisual rules to create a fairer environment for all players, promote European films, protect children and tackle hate speech better. This proposal also reflects a new approach to online platforms – like online marketplaces, search engines, payment systems, social media, video and content-sharing sites. , addressing challenges in different areas.

IAB Europe commends the Commission on its continuing strong interest in promoting Europe’s digital economy, as evidenced by the e-Commerce Package of 3 initiatives issued today alongside a Communication on online platforms and a Proposal to revise Directive 2010/13/EU on Audiovisual Media Services. But the Association also cautions against the risk of legislative indigestion.

“The Juncker Commission is continuing to drive a broad and energetic digital regulatory agenda, much of which affects online advertising, whether directly or indirectly”, noted Allan Sørensen, Chairman of IAB Europe’s Policy Committee. “While the EU’s focus on the economic opportunities brought by digital is certainly welcome, launching so many initiatives more or less in parallel means that Member States, companies and consumers do not have time to understand the implications of one set of changes to the rules, before a new set is contemplated.”

“The ink is barely dry on the recently-agreed General Data Protection Regulation – even the data protection authorities say they will need two years to figure out what it all means – yet the Commission has already launched a review of the e-Privacy Directive and predicts a proposal will be adopted by year’s end. To add to the lack of clarity, a draft Directive on digital contracts amalgamates money and data and introduces new legal concepts that temper with the GDPR.”

“Today’s Communication on online platforms adds to the legislative swirl by placing a set of fundamentally different digital actors – including advertising players – under the aegis of a new EU-level concept of ‘online platform’. Strikingly, platforms of user-generated content are also officially called out in the Proposal on Audiovisual Media Services, which thus far only applied to actors having editorial control over content. This opens the door to additional confusion in the market.”

An optimal single European Digital Market requires clear harmonised rules and the absence of technical barriers. Whether the current regulatory blitz will deliver the culture of innovation and dynamism that EU entrepreneurs and consumers need remains to be seen.

Related statements:

Press release IAB Europe
Vyhlásenie slovenského eurokomisára a podpredsedu EK pre Energetickú úniu Maroša Šefčoviča k návrhu nových pravidiel
Commission proposes new e-commerce rules to help consumers and companies reap full benefit of Single Market
Commission updates EU audiovisual rules and presents targeted approach to online platforms