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Ten years ago, the European
Commission sought to promote electronic commerce ("e-commerce") by
adopting a directive addressing certain legal aspects of information society
services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market
(2000/31/EC) (the "E-Commerce Directive"). Its aim was to encourage
consumers and businesses alike to make full use of the opportunities presented
by e-commerce, thereby promoting cross-border trade and assisting in the
creation of the single market.
A decade later, however, online sales account for a paltry 2% of total European
retail trade. The Commission feels that this is not good enough, so has
launched a consultation on the operation and implementation of the E-Commerce
Directive, as well as seeking general views on why e-commerce has not been more
of a success in Europe. With many complaints continuing to be heard about the
inability of consumers to purchase goods from other countries over the
internet, and the inability of companies to provide effective cross-border
services, the implications for the single market and its attendant competition
The consultation is addressed to individuals, consumer associations, businesses
and governments. With regard to individuals, it seeks to understand the drivers
behind consumer choices, and to uncover consumer perceptions as to why online
retailing is not currently thriving. That theme is developed in the questions
aimed at businesses, which look to identify the problems businesses encounter
when looking to maximise e-commerce opportunities.
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