An EU-wide right for consumers to change their minds about an on-line purchase within two weeks of receiving the good, and new requirements that on-line traders must give buyers precise information on the total price, the goods ordered and the trader's contact details, are among the benefits of new rules approved by Parliament on Thursday.

"We wanted to regulate mainly off-premises and distance contracts such as online trading, as this is where the most cross-border sales take place", commented Parliament's rapporteur and chief negotiator Andreas Schwab (EPP, DE), adding that "The new directive is thus a good example of how more Europe brings more benefits to consumers and traders alike. We have reached a well-balanced deal which meets both calls from consumers and business interests".

The new rules, approved with 615 votes in favour, 16 against and 21 abstentions, will strengthen protection for online shoppers and will also specify rules on delivery and digital downloads whilst cutting red tape for small and medium sized businesses.

As current EU rules on consumer rights predate the digital revolution, consumers today are poorly protected when shopping on line. 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 on-line cross-border shopping. At the same time, businesses cite legislative differences among Member States as the main reason for not selling across borders. 

For further information about the Consumer Rights Directive, see the "What the new rules will mean" link below.

Next steps

After today's final vote in Parliament, the last, formal approval by the Council of Ministers is expected to take place in July. Member States will have a maximum of two years to implement the new rules.

Procedure: Co-decision, 1st reading

Vote: 23.06.2011