Procedure : 2013/2043(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A7-0024/2014

Texts tabled :

A7-0024/2014

Debates :

PV 03/02/2014 - 22

Votes :

PV 04/02/2014 - 8.6

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2014)0067

REPORT     
PDF 238kWORD 117k
14 January 2014
PE 516.736v02-00 A7-0024/2014

on an integrated parcel delivery market for the growth of e-commerce in the EU

(2013/2043(INI))

Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection

Rapporteur: Pablo Arias Echeverría

ERRATA/ADDENDA
AMENDMENTS
MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 OPINION Committee on Employment and Social Affairs
 OPINION of the Committee on Transport and Tourism
 RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on an integrated parcel delivery market for the growth of e-commerce in the EU

(2013/2043(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Article 3(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which commits the Union to working for ‘a highly competitive social market economy, aiming at full employment and social progress, and a high level of protection and improvement of the quality of the environment’,

–   having regard to Article 9 TFEU, which establishes that ‘in defining and implementing its policies and activities, the Union shall take into account requirements linked to the promotion of a high level of employment, the guarantee of adequate social protection, the fight against social exclusion, and a high level of education, training and protection of human health’,

–   having regard to Article 11 TFEU, which stipulates that ‘environmental protection requirements must be integrated into the definition and implementation of the Union policies and activities, in particular with a view to promoting sustainable development’,

–   having regard to Article 12 TFEU, which stipulates that ‘consumer protection requirements shall be taken into account in defining and implementing other Union policies and activities’,

–   having regard to Article 14 TFEU and Protocol 26 thereto on services of general (economic) interest,

–   having regard to Article 26 TFEU, which stipulates that ‘the internal market shall comprise an area without internal frontiers in which the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital is ensured in accordance with the provisions of the Treaties’,

–   having regard to Articles 49 and 56 TFEU on the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services within the Union,

–   having regard to Articles 101 and 102 TFEU on the rules on competition applying to undertakings,

–   having regard to Article 169 TFEU on promoting the interests of consumers and ensuring a high level of consumer protection,

–   having regard to Directive 97/67/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, as amended by Directive 2002/39/EC and 2008/6/EC, on postal services,

–   having regard to Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular e-commerce, in the Internal Market,

–   having regard to Directive 2013/11/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2013 on alternative dispute resolution for consumer disputes and amending Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 and Directive 2009/22/EC,

–   having regard to Regulation (EU) No 524/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2013 on online dispute resolution for consumer disputes and amending Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 and Directive 2009/22/EC,

–   having regard to Directive 2011/83/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2011 on consumer rights, amending Council Directive 93/13/EEC and Directive 1999/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and repealing Council Directive 85/577/EEC and Directive 97/7/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council,

–   having regard to the Commission Green Paper of 29 November 2012 on ‘An integrated parcel delivery market for the growth of e-commerce in the EU’ (COM(2012)0698),

–   having regard to the Commission staff working document of 23 April 2013 entitled ‘E-commerce action plan 2012- 2015 – State of play 2013’ (SWD(2013)0153),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 11 January 2012 entitled ‘A coherent framework for building trust in the Digital Single Market for e-commerce and online services’ (COM(2011)0942),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 18 December 2012 entitled ‘The Digital Agenda for Europe – driving European growth digitally’ (COM(2012)0784),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 26 August 2010 entitled ‘A Digital Agenda for Europe’ (COM(2010)0245),

–   having regard to the Commission staff working document of 7 December 2012 entitled ‘Consumer Markets Scoreboard – Making markets work for consumers – Eighth edition’ (SWD(2012)0432),

–    having regard to the Commission communication of 22 May 2012 to Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled ‘A European Consumer Agenda – Boosting confidence and growth’ (COM(2012)0225),

–    having regard to the Commission communication of 23 February 2011 entitled ‘The review of the “Small Business Act” for Europe’ (COM(2011)0078),

–    having regard to the Commission communication of 9 January 2013 entitled ‘Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan – Reigniting the entrepreneurial spirit in Europe’ (COM(2012)0795),

–    having regard to the Commission communication of 9 November 2011 entitled ‘Small business, big world – A new partnership to help SMEs seize global opportunities’ (COM(2011)0702),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 28 November 2012 entitled ‘Annual Growth Survey 2013’ (COM(2012)0750),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 3 March 2010 entitled ‘Europe 2020 – a strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ (COM(2010)2020),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 11 November 2010 to Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled ‘Towards a Single Market Act – For a highly competitive social market economy – 50 proposals for improving our work, business and exchanges with one another’ (COM(2010)0608),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 3 October 2012 to Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled ‘Single Market Act II’ (COM(2012)0573),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 13 April 2011 to Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled ‘Single Market Act - Twelve levers to boost growth and strengthen confidence’ (COM(2011)0206),

–    having regard to the Commission White Paper of 28 March 2011 entitled ‘Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area’ (COM(2011)0144),

–    having regard to the Commission communication of 18 October 2007 entitled ‘The EU’s freight transport agenda: Boosting the efficiency, integration and sustainability of freight transport in Europe’ (COM(2007)0606),

–    having regard to the Council conclusions of 31 May 2012 on the ‘Digital Single Market and Governance of the Single Market’,

–   having regard to its resolution of 4 July 2013 on completing the digital single market(1),

–   having regard to its resolution of 11 December 2012 on completing the digital single market(2),

–   having regard to its resolution of 21 September 2010 on completing the internal market for e-commerce(3),

–   having regard to its resolutions of 6 April 2011 on ‘a Single Market for Europeans(4)’, on ‘a Single Market for Enterprises and Growth(5)’, and on ‘Governance and Partnership in the Single Market(6)’,

–   having regard to its resolution of 11 June 2013 on a new agenda for European Consumer Policy(7),

–   having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, the opinion of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A7-0024/2014),

A. whereas e-commerce is a channel with enormous potential to combat the economic and financial crisis, strengthen the single market, and create economic growth and employment across the European Union; whereas the Commission’s communication on e-commerce and online services of January 2012 identifies the delivery of goods purchased online as one of the top five priorities for boosting e-commerce by 2015, and its importance has been reiterated by the Council and by Parliament;

B.  whereas the EU e-commerce market grew by over 20% in 2012; whereas cross-border e-commerce in particular is predicted to multiply by a factor of four; whereas the parcel delivery market is undergoing radical transformations, with new providers entering the market, investment oriented towards innovation, and new services emerging;

C. whereas efficient and reliable delivery services are a critical pillar of a real and effective digital single market, having a substantial impact in terms of facilitating e-commerce and building trust between sellers and buyers;

D. whereas cross-border delivery is considered to be an obstacle by 57 % of retailers, while one in two consumers declare they are worried about delivery in cross-border transactions; whereas delivery concerns (including product returns) and high delivery costs are the top two concerns of consumers in relation to online shopping, contributing to low consumer confidence in cross-border e-commerce;

E.  whereas in order to overcome this situation it is vital to boost consumers’ confidence in delivery operators and services, trust in the market and knowledge of their rights and obligations, by ensuring more information, greater ease of understanding, and greater transparency regarding the conditions of delivery;

F.  whereas SMEs seeking business opportunities across the EU are confronted with higher costs, greater complexity and a lack of transparency when it comes to cross-border delivery; whereas prices for cross-border delivery are three to five times higher than domestic prices; whereas effective, simple and affordable delivery systems are a key driver of the sustainability of the business models of SMEs and their ability to supply products to customers;

Integrated delivery services in Europe: a pillar for the Digital Single Market

1.  Stresses that accessible, affordable, efficient, and high-quality delivery services are an essential element in the online purchasing of goods and must be promoted by ensuring free and fair competition; notes, however, that many consumers are reluctant to buy online, especially cross-border, because of uncertainties relating to the delivery options available, final delivery, delivery costs or reliability;

2.  Welcomes the Green Paper launched by the Commission to identify possible shortcomings in the European delivery market, and calls on the Commission to take appropriate action to address these in a way that will allow both businesses and consumers to benefit fully from the opportunities offered by the digital single market; stresses that any proposed action should take into account the sustainability of the delivery process and seek to minimise its environmental footprint;

3.  Notes cross-border weaknesses in competition between delivery operators in some Member States and deplores the lack of transparency on the pricing conditions and performance of the services concerned; believes, in particular, that tools must be put in place to provide information on offers by all European delivery operators;  

Putting consumer interests at the heart of the delivery process

4.  Stresses the importance of increasing consumer confidence in the delivery process; considers more transparency and better and more readily comparable information on available delivery options, prices and conditions to be paramount for consumers, specifically with respect to the conditions under which consumer orders are shipped and the procedures to follow in case of damage to or loss of goods or delay in their delivery or return;

5.  Emphasises that it is necessary to promote measures aimed at ensuring consumer choice at the time of purchase; notes the significant gap between consumer expectations and the availability of convenient, innovative services such as relay points or parcel kiosks, or terminals, round-the-clock services available at any time, track-and-trace solutions, consumer-friendly delivery places and times, or easy return policies;

6.  Stresses that reliability of delivery services is crucial and that it is essential to offer efficient systems that guarantee that parcels effectively reach the requested destination within a reasonable timeframe;

7.  Points out that the high cost of cross-border delivery or delivery to remote areas or the outermost regions is one of the main reasons for consumer dissatisfaction; stresses that more affordable delivery options for consumers and sellers, SMEs included, are imperative if long-distance sales and purchases are to increase and there is to be any point in talking of a genuinely single market;

8.  Stresses the need to improve geographical coverage and accessibility to universal service for delivery of parcels in rural and remote areas;

9.  Considers that in order to establish an Integrated Single Market for parcel delivery, it is important to have a stable and coherent social dimension, where delivery services are subject to compliance with labour rights, terms of employment and remuneration and social and environmental standards; notes in this respect that undeclared employment as well as abuses are a risk to the sector and that responsible, high quality employment and on-going, adequate training of staff is important in achieving high quality delivery services; stresses that keeping both the social dimension and allowing enough flexibility of the delivery market to evolve and adapt to technological innovations are key to fully satisfying consumer demands and expectations while allowing enterprises to offer them better products that fully meet their needs and expectations;

10. Draws attention to the importance of legal certainty for ensuring consumer confidence; stresses, in this connection, the importance of consumers being properly informed on the applicable legislation;

11. Believes that the development of cross-border online trade also depends on customer confidence, and that the creation of a European network of national problem-solving centres like Solvit would help reassure consumers, as would an alert system like RAPEX, which could warn consumers of sites found to be using fraudulent practices;

12. Notes that increasing numbers of consumers use comparison websites to compare prices, features or terms of delivery of products and services offered by parcel delivery firms, especially with regard to e-commerce; calls on the Commission to adopt EU guidelines on minimum standards for comparison websites, structured around the core principles of transparency, impartiality, quality, information and user-friendliness;

13. Calls on the Commission, in cooperation with the industry and consumer organisations, to draw up joint delivery service quality indicators, enabling consumers to compare different offers more accurately;

Creating a level playing field for SMEs

14. Highlights the vital role of SMEs in creating growth, innovation, and employment, in particular youth employment; stresses that delivery services are of extreme importance for European SMEs, and that an integrated competitive delivery market ensuring different delivery and logistic support options at affordable prices is a precondition for accessing new markets and reaching more consumers within the EU; stresses the importance of improving the information flow to SMEs concerning possibilities for consolidating their parcel volumes and about innovative delivery and pick-up solutions that would reduce the cost for the last stage of delivery;

15. Emphasises that business and SMEs in particular need to be able to respond to the needs and expectations of consumers with simpler, faster, more affordable, transparent, reliable and efficient shipping services in the context of cross-border e-commerce; stresses that delivery solutions that do not meet consumer expectations have a direct impact on a business’s brand name, image and competitiveness;

16. Notes the limited cross-border development of e-commerce by SMEs; encourages collaboration between SMEs as well as via their representative bodies to negotiate more advantageous delivery prices, notably through the introduction of shared online platforms, and to improve the quality of their services;

17. Is concerned about the disadvantages which SMEs encounter due to their small size; stresses that SMEs are currently confronted with higher costs, great complexity due to the fragmented European market, and a lack of information on available delivery options and prices;

Towards innovative and interoperable solutions for a truly European delivery market

18. Notes the fragmentation of the European postal sector into national networks with poor interoperability and the lack of integration of road, rail and water transport; welcomes the steps already taken by delivery market operators to introduce arrangements geared more closely to the needs of online retailers and consumers, such as more flexible delivery and return options; calls on the Commission to continue to propose measures to encourage industry to improve interoperability and accelerate the roll-out of streamlined parcel dispatch and collection processes aimed at reducing costs, increasing economies of scale for delivery operators, encouraging the grouping of small shipments and hence quantity discounts for small traders, increasing the availability and quality of delivery services, and offering affordable flexible shipping rates to consumers and businesses alike;

19. Believes that in this regard collaboration within the industry on interoperable cross-border track-and-trace systems is of particular importance; encourages the Commission to explore further the potential of developing European standards to improve integrated tracking systems and to promote the quality, reliability and sustainability of integrated logistic services applied to electronic commerce;

20. Highlights that easier collection and return solutions are already playing a significant role in the growth of e-commerce and could in future lead to lower prices and greater consumer satisfaction, especially in cross-border transactions; encourages further collaboration to improve the interoperability of call-centres dedicated to consumer complaints;

21. Calls on the Commission to create platforms for cooperation and information exchange between delivery operators in order to promptly address the existing gaps in the EU delivery market in terms of innovation, flexibility, stock management, transport, collection and return of parcels, while respecting EU competition law, and discuss the possibility of infrastructure sharing by express and postal mail services to their mutual advantage;

22. Calls on the Commission to work together with business towards the adoption of European standards on addressing and labelling, as well as e-commerce-friendly letter-box standards;

23. Calls on the Commission to explore the possibilities of creating a Pan-European Trustmark for e-Commerce, and whether such a Trustmark could also contribute to ensuring quality and reliability for integrated delivery services thus ensuring consumer confidence in cross-border e-commerce, could stimulate e-retailers and parcel firms to boost transparency as well as legal certainty for both consumers and businesses, and could increase the competitive advantage of businesses, especially SMEs, therefore contributing to sound economic growth and employment creation; stresses that in order to be effective, such a Trustmark should be based on a set of minimum standardised features and transparent provisions for consumer protection and information, as well as requirements for complaints handling and dispute resolution procedures;

24. Stresses that the protection of an individual’s personal data, and data protection in general, is of paramount importance and that any new measures taken should be subject to EU data protection legislation and in particular to Directive 95/46/EC;

Monitoring market development and improving regulatory oversight

25. Recognises the dynamic nature of the parcel delivery market, with new services and operators emerging rapidly; notes that innovative solutions responding to the needs of e-retailers and customers are likely to become a key differentiator for competition; considers that any legislative measures should be carefully assessed in advance in order to avoid impairing the dynamism of the parcel delivery market which should not be hampered by over-regulation; calls on the Commission to monitor the development of the market carefully, in order to identify any areas of potential market failure where further action may become necessary in the future; stresses in this context that market monitoring should take into account not only established postal operators but also other types of delivery service providers;

26. Points out that there is already an appropriate regulatory framework, and calls on Member States and the Commission to ensure that the existing regulatory framework is fully transposed, implemented and enforced, with particular attention to the Postal Services Directive, EU competition law, the Directive on Alternative Dispute Resolution, and the Consumer Rights Directive, in particular as regards the formal requirements for distance contracts;

27. Highlights that the effective enforcement of the legal framework also depends on the surveillance by national regulators of the legal obligations of postal operators, in particular regarding the universal service obligation under Directive 97/67/EC;

28. Observes that complicated provisions concerning Value Added Tax are a significant obstacle to small businesses trading across borders; calls on the Commission to submit the promised proposal on the introduction of a uniform VAT declaration as soon as possible;

29. Stresses that an optional European contract law for contracts between undertakings and consumers would result in perceptible simplification and encourage more SMEs to send parcels internationally; calls on the Member States to pursue the current negotiations concerning the European Sales Law in a constructive spirit;

30. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

(1)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0327.

(2)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0468.

(3)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2010)0320.

(4)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0145.

(5)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0146.

(6)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0144.

(7)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0239.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

Importance of delivery for the growth of e-commerce in Europe

The economic importance of the internet economy and of e-commerce in particular has been widely acknowledged. In 2012, the EU B2C e-Commerce market grew by around 20% to some 250 billion Euros. Between 2013 and 2016, an annual increase in e-commerce of more than 10% is expected for the entire European region. Yet, e-commerce markets vary greatly across the EU: whilst in the UK, for instance, over 80% of internet users bought online in 2012, the figure was only 11% in Romania. At the same time, cross-border e-commerce, though growing steadily, is still lagging behind domestic sales throughout almost the entire EU. Figures suggest that there is a large potential for increased e-commerce in the EU, with cross-border e-commerce expected to multiply by a factor of four.

However, this potential can only be realised if delivery services meet the needs of e-shoppers and e-retailers, so that delivery services do not become a bottleneck. Accessible, affordable and high-quality delivery services across Europe are an essential prerequisite to realising the full potential of e-commerce.

Recent studies have shown that problems related to delivery services are a key reason for not buying online, with almost half of consumers naming concerns about possible non-delivery, damaged goods or uncertainty about return policies as reasons for refraining from e-commerce. Delivery-related problems (e.g. unexpectedly high delivery costs or lengthy delivery times) are responsible for almost 70% of abandoned online shopping transactions. SMEs likewise express dissatisfaction about the lack of transparency, the quality of delivery services and the high costs of cross-border delivery, considering it a significant barrier to their development in the digital single market.

The report recognises that the parcel delivery market in Europe is experiencing rapid changes, with new services emerging and new players entering the market. Yet, evidence suggests that important barriers remain in place, threatening to slow down the potential for growth in European e-commerce. The rapporteur therefore urges Member States and the Commission to prioritise removing all major obstacles towards the development of an integrated market for parcel delivery, which should be seen as a fundamental pillar in the construction of the digital single market.

Putting consumer interests at the heart of the delivery process

It is time to put consumers at the heart of the delivery process and to overcome the gap between consumer expectations and the reality on the ground. It is time to move towards more transparency, better quality, more affordability and increased availability.

Consumers expect more transparency and better information on the available delivery options and the conditions of the delivery process, including the shipment of orders and what to do if parcels are delayed, damaged or lost. More transparency and comparability is also needed in terms of the pricing and the different operators acting on the market. Secondly, consumers expect to have the possibility to choose between different shipment options (including for instance where and when a parcel should be delivered) at the point of purchase. All too often, consumers have no say in the matter, which causes increasing frustration.

Consumers expect better quality services in terms of reliability, speed and convenience. Packages must effectively reach the requested destination within a reasonable timeframe in order to make online shopping attractive and save for consumers. Innovative convenient solutions exist, including easy return policies, track-and-trace systems or the availability of relay points/ parcel kiosks to ease the collection of parcels from delivery operators. Ensuring that such solutions are taken up widely would not only respond to consumer needs but it would also be a key step to reduce costs and lower prices.

The high cost of delivery, especially across borders, continues to be one of the main reasons for consumer dissatisfaction with online shopping, seen as a fundamental obstacle to cross-border e-commerce.

Finally, the evidence clearly suggests that there are important differences in terms of availability of delivery services between different EU Member States and different regions within the same Member State, to the detriment of consumers living in less accessible, remote areas. This imbalance risks jeopardising the potentially positive social effects of e-commerce, providing access to a wide choice of goods and services for people who would otherwise not benefit from the single market to the same degree.

Creating a level playing field for SMEs

Small and medium-sized companies are the cornerstone of the EU economy. If Europe wants to unlock the growth potential that the digital single market has to offer, it is imperative that the right framework conditions are put in place to encourage SMEs to grow and expand across the EU. SMEs in particular depend on the availability of the logistic sector to deliver solutions at low cost, in a convenient manner in order to meet consumer expectations. The quality of delivery services has a direct impact on a business’s reputation and success in the online world. SMEs in particular are at a disadvantage as they have neither the bargaining power to obtain substantial discounts from delivery operators nor the capacity to invest in logistics networks of their own.

What is more, the ability of SMEs to provide customer-oriented delivery services depends on where they are located and where they are selling their products. There are marked differences between domestic and cross-border services with many premium services such as track-and-trace, relay points and parcel kiosks, electronic notifications or insurance related to delivery only provided for the domestic market (and at times not even for the entire country). Prices for cross-border deliveries are often three to five times higher than prices for domestic delivery, with customers that are able to buy shipments in bulk enjoying significant discounts and small retailers usually facing much higher delivery prices, preventing them from engaging in e-commerce.

The rapporteur stresses the importance to allow SMEs in the digital single market to compete under comparable conditions with the large e-commerce players. For this, it is vital to address the challenges of higher costs for cross-border shipments, the great complexity of the process, resulting for instance from the lack of standardised procedures for labelling, postal codes, bar codes or address forms and the lack of transparency in the delivery market today, where it is increasingly difficult for small players to become aware of the different logistics solutions available.

Towards innovative, interoperable solutions for a truly European delivery market

The rapporteur is of the opinion that in order to respond to the needs of consumers and businesses alike, it is vital to encourage the development of interoperable and cost effective solutions. Logistics operators and delivery service providers must be encouraged to accelerate the roll-out of existing innovative solutions and the development of new ones. Whilst respecting the principles of competition policy, the Commission should encourage industry to cooperate in putting forward a catalogue of measures to boost the development of a truly integrated European delivery market based on more streamlined, efficient processes that help reduce cost and increase quality. This catalogue of measures should cover the following aspects:

•    track-and-trace: facilitate industry collaboration on cross-border integrated tracking systems

•    easy collection and return solutions, especially cross-border

•    labelling

•    interoperability of call centres for consumer complaints

•    information platform on available delivery services to increase transparency for SMEs and consumers

In addition, the rapporteur recommends that the European Commission explore the added value of introducing European standards on addressing and labelling as well as e-Commerce friendly common letter box standards to reduce the complexity and cost of the delivery process. Another proposal for follow-up action put forward in the draft report is to build on existing price comparison websites and to integrate “delivery requirements” (such as requirements related to delivery performance and the provision of transparent and easily accessible information) into existing European trustmark schemes in order to improve transparency and competition.

Monitoring market developments and improving regulatory oversight

With the growth of e-commerce, the parcel delivery market is undergoing radical transformations, with new service providers entering the market, new types of services emerging and overall competition increasing. Innovative solutions responding to the needs of e-retailers and customers are likely to become a key differentiator for competition. In this dynamic environment, any legislative intervention should be handled with utmost care. The rapporteur is therefore of the view that in addition to supporting the development of industry-led solutions, at this stage emphasis should be placed on two additional measures: (1) enforcing the existing regulatory framework and (2) improving market monitoring to identify incidences of market failures where further action may be necessary.

It is clear that further information is required and that market monitoring should move beyond a domestic market focus to encompass also the cross-border dimension, and it should look not only at traditional postal operators but also on new service providers.

In this context the rapporteur highlights the importance of identifying any structural entry barriers or incidences of abuse of dominant market position, be it through price strategies or other tools to foreclose the market from competitors and stresses the need for enhanced administrative cooperation between national regulatory authorities in particular in relation to cross-border deliveries.

Finally, the report calls on Member States and the Commission to ensure that the existing regulatory framework is fully enforced. This applies in particular to the Postal Services Directive, EU Competition law and the Consumer Rights Directive.


OPINION Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (26.11.2013)

for the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection

on an integrated parcel delivery market for the growth of e-commerce in the EU

(2013/2043(INI))

Rapporteur: Jutta Steinruck

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Employment and Social Affairs calls on the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:

1.  Stresses the need to monitor compliance with the prescribed driving and resting times and the working hours permitted by law, to count as working time all tasks connected with the activity and to monitor compliance with European standards on the protection of health and safety at work for all persons involved in making deliveries, irrespective of their employment status;

2.  Welcomes the Commission’s commitment to simplifying cross-border parcel delivery for consumers and undertakings by enhancing the transparency of the delivery process, enabling tracking and setting quality standards to create a common European delivery market;

3.  Is aware that online trade is an important growth market which should be promoted throughout Europe by means of a functioning internal market in parcel deliveries, without this infringing Member States’ social and employment standards or putting SMEs and start-ups at a disadvantage; warns that the increasing competition in the sector should not come at the expense of employment and working conditions;

4.  Considers that among the keys to appropriate transformation and adaptation measures are the development of compatible information systems and employee training; regards it as the employer’s task to acquaint employees properly with new technologies offering support for online delivery, which are becoming more widespread and complex; believes that, in the case of temporary contracts, the employer must provide adequate preparation and training;

5.  Considers it necessary that employees in this sector have access to adequate training opportunities and are remunerated in accordance with collective agreements and/or Member State law and practices; regrets the fact that insufficient reference is made in the Commission’s Green Paper to the important role of social partners in this context; notes that economic regulation must be accompanied by social regulation, particularly with regard to employment models based on self-employment, temporary employment and part-time employment;

6.  Highlights the fact that delivery firms outsource an extremely high amount of their work; takes the view that outsourcing must not lead to firms evading remuneration requirements or failing to comply with working and employment conditions; draws attention to the long-term implications of precarious employment for Member States’ welfare systems;

7.  Encourages the social partners to conclude collective agreements relating to the activities of parcel service undertakings; expects Member States to increase monitoring of parcel service operators and their subcontractors as regards employment and working conditions; underlines in this context the principle of equal pay for equal work performed in the same place by staff having the same experience, know-how and seniority;

8.  Stresses the importance of online trading and its associated parcel services for SMEs, start-ups and their employees;

9.  Stresses also that the slowdown in the growth of cross-border online trading cannot be blamed solely on shortcomings in delivery but is rather the result of uncertainties about consumer rights and rights protection in cross-border online trade; calls on the Commission, therefore, to take action in the field of consumer protection so as to further facilitate online trade.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

26.11.2013

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

31

4

0

Members present for the final vote

Heinz K. Becker, Phil Bennion, Pervenche Berès, Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, Alejandro Cercas, Derek Roland Clark, Minodora Cliveti, Emer Costello, Frédéric Daerden, Sari Essayah, Richard Falbr, Nadja Hirsch, Stephen Hughes, Ádám Kósa, Jean Lambert, Patrick Le Hyaric, Verónica Lope Fontagné, Olle Ludvigsson, Csaba Őry, Konstantinos Poupakis, Sylvana Rapti, Elisabeth Schroedter, Nicole Sinclaire, Jutta Steinruck, Ruža Tomašić, Traian Ungureanu

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Georges Bach, Jürgen Creutzmann, Liisa Jaakonsaari, Jelko Kacin, Martin Kastler, Anthea McIntyre, Birgit Sippel, Csaba Sógor

Substitute(s) under Rule 187(2) present for the final vote

Maurice Ponga


OPINION of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (06.11.2013)

for the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection

on an integrated parcel delivery market for the growth of e-commerce in the EU

(2013/2043(INI))

Rapporteur: Michel Dantin

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Transport and Tourism calls on the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions in its motion for a resolution:

1.  Emphasises that e-commerce is a fast-growing, job-creating sector, and that one of the main reasons for its success is the quality of delivery services; stresses that delivery firms should therefore strive to implement innovative improvements to delivery options (e.g. parcel collection points at transport hubs, IT notification) and optimise and implement green logistic chains; furthermore, believes that continued growth in the sector should not be constrained by an extension of the regulatory framework;

2.  Believes that the development of cross-border online trade also depends on customer confidence, and that the creation of a European network of national problem-solving centres like Solvit would help reassure consumers, as would an alert system like RAPEX, which could warn consumers of sites found to be using fraudulent practices;

3.  Notes the limited cross-border development of e-commerce by SMEs; encourages collaboration between SMEs as well as via their representative bodies to negotiate more advantageous delivery prices, notably through the introduction of shared online platforms, and to improve the quality of their services;

4.  Notes that the e-retailer places the order with the deliverer, and should therefore take responsibility for information on the conditions for parcel delivery, based on the various options it offers, such as price, average delivery times, delivery guarantees and tracking and return possibilities; calls in this respect for better information and transparency standards, notably through the proper enforcement of Directive 2011/83/EU on consumer rights, and in particular the clauses therein relating to distance contracts which lay down the responsibilities of the e-retailers;

5.   Notes that consumers like to have a choice between different delivery options, and that online retailers should therefore endeavour to offer a variety of options, including in the case of cross-border sales, and that delivery companies and postal operators should strive to offer as wide as possible a range of services and price rates for deliveries within the EU, including tracking and return options, and different point-of-delivery possibilities;

6.  Regrets the fragmentation of the European postal sector into national networks with poor interoperability and the lack of integration of road, rail and water transport; calls on the Commission to take initiatives and work with industry, based where appropriate on the work done by the various operators in the sector, so as to encourage deliverers and e-retailers to work together and step up their efforts to increase interoperability, not least as regards labelling and traceability systems;

7.  Draws attention to the importance of legal certainty for ensuring consumer confidence; stresses, in this connection, the importance of consumers being properly informed on the applicable legislation;

8.  Notes cross-border weaknesses in competition between delivery operators in some Member States and deplores the lack of transparency on the pricing conditions and performance of the services concerned; believes, in particular, that tools must be put in place to provide information on offers by all European delivery operators;  

9.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to ensure the correct transposition and implementation of the existing regulatory framework on consumer protection, quality of delivery services, Community competition law and alternative dispute resolution; considers the role of the regulatory authorities to be crucial in ensuring that these goals are met and stresses, therefore, the need to provide them with the financial, material and human resources they need to effectively perform their tasks;

10. Encourages the development of labels and certificates for delivery services that can be recognised at European level, cover the whole delivery chain of operators and be issued by the competent authorities, thus encouraging companies to improve their performance, including requirements for procedures for complaint-handling and dispute resolution, social conditions and environmental aspects, thus giving consumers confidence in the quality, reliability and social and environmental soundness of the services offered and encouraging them to choose more sustainable methods of delivery, this evolution being conducive to sound economic growth and employment creation; considers that certification of e-commerce sites will help increase consumer confidence in e-commerce and hence in the parcel delivery process;

11. Stresses the need to develop common rules and frameworks for ordering parcels electronically and to create a European platform for providing and exchanging information on consumers’ rights;

12. Urges that the policies concerned take into account the impact of deliveries of e-commerce parcels on urban traffic and atmospheric pollution stemming from the sharp increase in the number of individual deliveries, which should not lead to developments that contradict the EU’s social or environmental goals; calls on the Commission to hold discussions with the interested parties on the need to implement green logistics, and in particular on the issue of the ‘last mile’ in urban areas, taking into account factors relating to the environment, methods of transport, town planning, quality and choice of services and competition rules;

13. Believes that the relevance of a revision of Directive 2008/6/EC to meet the present challenges can only be assessed after analysis of the evaluation report on its implementation and in light of the efforts made by stakeholders; believes that any consideration of an extension of regulation into this competitive market must be evidence-based and consider to what extent further regulation would have an impact on market operations and market growth;

14. Calls on the Member States to combat undeclared employment and to ensure that workers in the delivery sector enjoy reasonable employment conditions, including fair and decent working conditions and wages as well as innovative and comprehensive staff training and education, since delivery companies are subject to delivery deadline and profitability pressures that can tempt them to resort to precarious employment practices and unacceptable working conditions such as excessive recourse to sub-contracting and the use of self-employed workers; calls on the Member States to act with a view to ensuring fair competition between operators and to increase controls of subcontractors in order to comply with the legal and collective terms of employment;

15. Stresses that the protection of an individual’s personal data, and data protection in general, is of paramount importance and that any new measures taken should be subject to EU data protection legislation and in particular to Directive 95/46/EC.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

5.11.2013

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

37

0

0

Members present for the final vote

Georges Bach, Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, Philip Bradbourn, Michael Cramer, Philippe De Backer, Luis de Grandes Pascual, Christine De Veyrac, Saïd El Khadraoui, Ismail Ertug, Knut Fleckenstein, Jacqueline Foster, Franco Frigo, Mathieu Grosch, Jim Higgins, Juozas Imbrasas, Dieter-Lebrecht Koch, Georgios Koumoutsakos, Werner Kuhn, Jörg Leichtfried, Gesine Meissner, Dominique Riquet, Petri Sarvamaa, Vilja Savisaar-Toomast, Brian Simpson, Keith Taylor, Giommaria Uggias, Peter van Dalen, Dominique Vlasto, Artur Zasada

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Jean-Jacob Bicep, Michel Dantin, Markus Ferber, Zita Gurmai, Bogdan Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, Geoffrey Van Orden, Bernadette Vergnaud

Substitute(s) under Rule 187(2) present for the final vote

Traian Ungureanu


RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

17.12.2013

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

33

0

0

Members present for the final vote

Pablo Arias Echeverría, Preslav Borissov, Birgit Collin-Langen, Lara Comi, António Fernando Correia de Campos, Vicente Miguel Garcés Ramón, Malcolm Harbour, Philippe Juvin, Toine Manders, Hans-Peter Mayer, Sirpa Pietikäinen, Phil Prendergast, Mitro Repo, Robert Rochefort, Zuzana Roithová, Heide Rühle, Christel Schaldemose, Andreas Schwab, Catherine Stihler, Róża Gräfin von Thun und Hohenstein, Bernadette Vergnaud, Barbara Weiler

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Jürgen Creutzmann, Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz, Emma McClarkin, Roberta Metsola, Konstantinos Poupakis, Sylvana Rapti, Olle Schmidt, Jutta Steinruck, Marc Tarabella, Kerstin Westphal

Substitute(s) under Rule 187(2) present for the final vote

Małgorzata Handzlik

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