Online and other distance sales of goods

14-07-2017

This study was requested by the European Parliament’s Committee for Internal Market and Consumer Protection as part of the Parliament’s general commitment to improving the quality of EU legislation, and in particular in undertaking to carry out impact assessments of its own substantial amendments when it considers it appropriate and necessary for the legislative process. The aim of this ex-ante impact assessment is to evaluate two substantial amendments being proposed to the Commission proposal for a directive on certain aspects concerning contracts for the online and other distance sales of goods. The amendments would extend the scope of the proposed directive to any sale contract concluded between the consumer and the seller, and would repeal the Consumer Sales Directive. The findings of the study indicate that the harmonisation of rules across Member States and sales channels would reduce the fragmentation of the legal framework and enhance the clarity and transparency of applicable rules to the benefit of both consumers and businesses. Most importantly, one single regime for online and face-to-face transactions could contribute to increased consumers’ and traders’ awareness and confidence in purchasing/selling online and offline, domestically and across borders. There would be a general increase in consumer protection throughout the EU, with the exception of some Member States where consumers’ rights would be weakened. This could, however, translate into increased costs for businesses in relation to remedies provided to consumers. The importance of having a single regime for online and offline sales has been strongly supported by all stakeholders consulted for this study. Nonetheless, consumer and business organisations have different views with regard to the aspects of consumer protection under examination. Finding a balance between the interests of consumers and businesses remains, thus, crucial.

This study was requested by the European Parliament’s Committee for Internal Market and Consumer Protection as part of the Parliament’s general commitment to improving the quality of EU legislation, and in particular in undertaking to carry out impact assessments of its own substantial amendments when it considers it appropriate and necessary for the legislative process. The aim of this ex-ante impact assessment is to evaluate two substantial amendments being proposed to the Commission proposal for a directive on certain aspects concerning contracts for the online and other distance sales of goods. The amendments would extend the scope of the proposed directive to any sale contract concluded between the consumer and the seller, and would repeal the Consumer Sales Directive. The findings of the study indicate that the harmonisation of rules across Member States and sales channels would reduce the fragmentation of the legal framework and enhance the clarity and transparency of applicable rules to the benefit of both consumers and businesses. Most importantly, one single regime for online and face-to-face transactions could contribute to increased consumers’ and traders’ awareness and confidence in purchasing/selling online and offline, domestically and across borders. There would be a general increase in consumer protection throughout the EU, with the exception of some Member States where consumers’ rights would be weakened. This could, however, translate into increased costs for businesses in relation to remedies provided to consumers. The importance of having a single regime for online and offline sales has been strongly supported by all stakeholders consulted for this study. Nonetheless, consumer and business organisations have different views with regard to the aspects of consumer protection under examination. Finding a balance between the interests of consumers and businesses remains, thus, crucial.