Consumer rights: what the new EU rules will mean
An EU-wide right for consumers to change their minds about a purchase made on line within two weeks after having received the good, new requirements that compel on-line traders to provide the consumer with exact information on the total price, the goods ordered and the contact details of the trader, are among the benefits of the new Consumer Rights Directive. The new rules aim to strengthen protection for online buyers so as to boost consumer confidence and cross-border on-line trade.
In 2010, 40% of EU consumers bought online goods and services over the internet in compared to 26% in 2006, making the internet the most frequently-used distance-selling medium today. However, only 7% of internet users have placed cross-border orders within the EU.
Concerns about late or non-delivery of goods, as well as the patchwork fragmentation of Member States' consumer protection rules, are holding consumers back from cross-border online shopping. Businesses, too, cite legislative differences among Member States as the main reason for not selling across borders.
After two and half years of tough negotiations, Parliament's negotiating team, led by MEP Andreas Schwab (EPP,DE), managed to broker a well-balanced agreement with the Council to ensure clear and common rules on consumer rights across the EU. This deal was overwhelmingly approved by the Internal Market Committee on 16 June and in plenary on 23 June.