Commission Consults on How to Improve the Role of E-Commerce

Commission Consults on How to Improve the Role of E-Commerce

Ten years ago, the European Commission sought to promote e-commerce by adopting a directive addressing certain legal aspects of electronic commerce. Its aim was to encourage consumers and businesses to make full use of 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. This Commentary, written by Greenberg Traurig's London Office, discusses the Commission's recently launched consultation on the operation and implementation of the E-Commerce Directive. They write:

     The consultation echoes the messages contained in the Commission's recent "Retail Market Monitoring Report" (published in July 2010) and its August 2010 communication on "A Digital Agenda for Europe". Whilst the Retail Report notes that online retailing has not developed to the degree that might have been expected, the Digital Agenda emphasises the perceived importance of e-commerce to the recovery of Europe from the current economic downturn, and as a key part of smart and sustainable future growth of the European economy.

     It is clear from the consultation, as well as the Retail Report and the Digital Agenda, that persisting national barriers to cross-border online sales are of significant concern. In particular, the consultation picks up on the impact of intellectual property rights, including copyright, and the goods and works which benefit from those rights, being licenced, sold and managed on a territorial basis.

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