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New consumer agenda

03-02-2021

Consumer expenditure accounted for 52.6 % of European Union gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019. Meanwhile, in the same year, one in five consumers said they had had at least one reason to complain about a purchase the previous year – a number largely unchanged for a decade. Increasingly, consumers do their shopping online. One in six people bought at least one item online in 2019. Yet while online shopping is now ubiquitous, European rules have lagged behind. On 13 November 2020, the European Commission ...

Consumer expenditure accounted for 52.6 % of European Union gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019. Meanwhile, in the same year, one in five consumers said they had had at least one reason to complain about a purchase the previous year – a number largely unchanged for a decade. Increasingly, consumers do their shopping online. One in six people bought at least one item online in 2019. Yet while online shopping is now ubiquitous, European rules have lagged behind. On 13 November 2020, the European Commission published a new consumer agenda – its strategy for consumer policy for the 2020-2025 period. The strategy aims to address five long-term priorities: the green transition, digital transformation, redress and the enforcement of consumer rights, the specific needs of certain consumer groups, and international cooperation. In addition, it proposes measures to address immediate challenges that have emerged during the pandemic. Over the next five-year period, the Commission plans to empower consumers for the green transition: giving them information on the sustainability of products; establishing a right to repair; and laying down rules regarding green claims. It plans to tackle problematic practices on online marketplaces, fix the gaps in rules on product safety, especially for products sold online, and improve enforcement of existing rules. At the same time, it plans to improve protection of vulnerable groups, especially people who do not have access to the internet, and children. It plans to revise the rules for retail banking and improve financial advice services in Member States. Although the European Parliament has not adopted a resolution on the consumer agenda per se, it has adopted several legislative and non-legislative resolutions on topics covered by the agenda, including the sustainable single market, product safety, the future digital services act and artificial intelligence. Various stakeholders have expressed their views on the new consumer agenda, both during the public consultation before it was published, and following its publication.

Addressing the VAT gap in the EU

17-12-2020

Among indirect taxes, value added tax (VAT) has the highest share in the Member States' indirect taxation revenues and is an important source of income for the EU budget too. Therefore, estimations and actions to narrow the difference between expected and actual VAT revenues – the VAT gap – are important. According to the European Commission, the EU VAT gap stood at €140 billion in 2018 and could fall below €130 billion in 2019. However, Covid-19-related containment measures have hurt Member States ...

Among indirect taxes, value added tax (VAT) has the highest share in the Member States' indirect taxation revenues and is an important source of income for the EU budget too. Therefore, estimations and actions to narrow the difference between expected and actual VAT revenues – the VAT gap – are important. According to the European Commission, the EU VAT gap stood at €140 billion in 2018 and could fall below €130 billion in 2019. However, Covid-19-related containment measures have hurt Member States' economies and eroded the VAT base. As a result, the VAT gap may reach over €164 billion in 2020. A broad VAT gap requires urgent action for improving voluntary compliance, achieving better administrative cooperation and enhancing the performance of national tax administrations. Recent EU legislative initiatives have addressed these needs, while also seeking to adapt the VAT system to the challenges of the modern economy. The VAT e-commerce package applicable from 2021 is a good example of these efforts. Another is the adoption in July 2020 of a tax package aimed to combat tax fraud. The package includes a Tax action plan, a communication on 'Good Tax Governance' and a proposal to amend Directive 2011/16/EU on administrative cooperation in the field of taxation. The European Union is a global leader in the digitalisation of VAT compliance, and its work on drawing up the legislative framework for applying VAT in the digital economy spans a number of years. Noteworthy is the requirement for non-EU businesses providing digital services to private consumers in the EU Member States to register for VAT and charge VAT based on destination, which set an example to emulate by other non-EU countries.

Regulating digital gatekeepers: Background on the future digital markets act

08-12-2020

The EU has unveiled an ambitious plan to regulate online platforms, and the European Commission is proposing to introduce ex ante regulation to ensure that markets characterised by large platforms acting as digital gatekeepers remain fair and competitive for innovators, businesses, and new market entrants. The introduction of an ex ante regulatory framework that could limit online platforms' commercial freedom and give wide-ranging enforcement powers to regulators would be a far-reaching step. Against ...

The EU has unveiled an ambitious plan to regulate online platforms, and the European Commission is proposing to introduce ex ante regulation to ensure that markets characterised by large platforms acting as digital gatekeepers remain fair and competitive for innovators, businesses, and new market entrants. The introduction of an ex ante regulatory framework that could limit online platforms' commercial freedom and give wide-ranging enforcement powers to regulators would be a far-reaching step. Against this background, this briefing explains the rationale for regulating digital gatekeepers in the EU and provides an overview of the key policy questions currently under discussion. Recent reports and studies have shown how a few large platforms have the ability to apply a range of practices that raise significant competition issues. The limitation of competition law – essentially applied ex-post after the anti-competitive practices have been implemented – has sparked a debate on whether EU competition rules are still fit for purpose and whether such platforms should not instead be regulated ex ante so as to provide upfront clarity about what behaviour towards users and competitors is acceptable. In this respect, the policy discussion focuses on a number of issues, in particular, how to identify online gatekeepers that should be subject to ex ante regulation, what conduct should be outlawed for those gatekeepers, what obligations should be placed on them (such as data portability and interoperability), and how such innovative regulations should be enforced. Finally, the briefing highlights the initial views of a number of stakeholders.

The impact of COVID-19 on the Internal Market and consumer protection - IMCO Webinar Proceedings

07-12-2020

These proceedings summarise the presentations and discussions that took place during the IMCO webinar held on 9 November 2020 on the impact of COVID-19 on the Internal Market and consumer protection. The webinar was structured in two panels, each consisting of two presentations and two Q&A sessions. The first panel focused on the free movement of goods and people. The second panel was devoted to consumer protection and provision of services. This document was provided by the Policy Department for ...

These proceedings summarise the presentations and discussions that took place during the IMCO webinar held on 9 November 2020 on the impact of COVID-19 on the Internal Market and consumer protection. The webinar was structured in two panels, each consisting of two presentations and two Q&A sessions. The first panel focused on the free movement of goods and people. The second panel was devoted to consumer protection and provision of services. This document was provided by the Policy Department for Economic, Scientific and Quality of Life Policies for the committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO).

Extern avdelning

Caterina MARIOTTI, Agnieszka MARKOWSKA and Marta BALLESTEROS

Digital Services Act - Pre-legislative synthesis of national, regional and local positions on the European Commission's initiative

26-11-2020

This briefing forms part of an EPRS series offering syntheses of the pre-legislative state of play and consultation on key European Commission priorities during the current five-year term. It summarises the state of affairs in the relevant policy field, examines how existing policy is working on the ground, and, where possible, identifies best practice and ideas for the future on the part of governmental organisations at all levels of European system of multilevel governance. EPRS analysis of the ...

This briefing forms part of an EPRS series offering syntheses of the pre-legislative state of play and consultation on key European Commission priorities during the current five-year term. It summarises the state of affairs in the relevant policy field, examines how existing policy is working on the ground, and, where possible, identifies best practice and ideas for the future on the part of governmental organisations at all levels of European system of multilevel governance. EPRS analysis of the positions of partner organisations at European, national, regional and local levels suggests that they would like the following main considerations to be reflected in discussion of the forthcoming Digital Services Act (DSA): Modernisation of EU legislation on platforms Regional and national stakeholders stress that it is high time to update and harmonise EU rules on online platforms, pointing out that the DSA should address the legal uncertainty and administrative burden stemming from the fragmentation of Union legislation. Broader scope for the DSA Local actors, especially cities, stress that the legislative proposal should tackle issues arising from the offering of online services that do not comply with local regulations, for instance on health, safety, housing taxation (e.g. short-term holiday rental) and urban mobility. Stronger enforcement and cooperation Several cities call on the Commission to clarify exemptions to the principle of origin and to include under EU law explicit provisions to supply the country of destination's competent authorities with all relevant information and data necessary to enforce applicable regulations. Regulation of gatekeepers Governmental organisations at regional and national levels share the view that there is a need to impose special rules on online gatekeepers. They therefore strongly support the introduction of ex-ante obligations on platforms in a gatekeeper position.

Socio-economic effects of digital trade and artificial intelligence on EU industries including their value chains and EU imports and exports with major trade partners

11-11-2020

Artificial intelligence and new digital technologies are transforming digital trade. They facilitate the development of new business models of trade and reduce the geographical barriers of economic transactions. Such transformations are quite useful for the small and medium enterprises. Artificial intelligence is being adopted by both digital and non-digital sectors, but its adoption varies a great deal across countries, including within the EU. Data and information flow play a crucial role in digital ...

Artificial intelligence and new digital technologies are transforming digital trade. They facilitate the development of new business models of trade and reduce the geographical barriers of economic transactions. Such transformations are quite useful for the small and medium enterprises. Artificial intelligence is being adopted by both digital and non-digital sectors, but its adoption varies a great deal across countries, including within the EU. Data and information flow play a crucial role in digital trade by allowing personalization. Digital trade is not new, but it is taking new forms that are ushering a new phase of globalisation. So far digital trade mainly affected trade in goods, including through global value chains, though some service activities have already become more tradeable thanks to digital technologies. The new phase of globalisation driven by artificial intelligence and new digital technologies is likely to do for services what the previous phase did for manufacturing: to vastly increase trade between advanced and emerging economies. This prospect raises important issues for domestic policies and trade policy.

Extern avdelning

Georgios PETROPOULOS, André SAPIR, Michele FINK, Niclas Frederic POITIERS, Dennis GÖRLICH.

Legal Analysis of International Trade Law and Digital Trade

11-11-2020

This brief provides a legal analysis of existing rules in digital trade regarding the various components of artificial intelligence (‘AI’), in particular (personal and nonpersonal) data, computer code in the form of algorithms, and computing power (including cloud computing). To do so, the first part of this analysis will map various international trade rules that affect cross-border flows of data, computer code and computing power to determine their respective advantages and disadvantages. This ...

This brief provides a legal analysis of existing rules in digital trade regarding the various components of artificial intelligence (‘AI’), in particular (personal and nonpersonal) data, computer code in the form of algorithms, and computing power (including cloud computing). To do so, the first part of this analysis will map various international trade rules that affect cross-border flows of data, computer code and computing power to determine their respective advantages and disadvantages. This will form the basis for the second part of the analysis, which will address the desirability and necessity of global rulemaking in this area.

Extern avdelning

Georgios PETROPOULOS, André SAPIR, Michele FINK, Niclas Frederic POITIERS, Dennis GÖRLICH

Geopolitical Aspects of Digital Trade

11-11-2020

This in-depth analysis discusses issues in trade in digitally deliverable services and the geopolitics of digital trade policy. Digitally deliverable services are becoming increasingly important for global value chains, both in terms of final products exported to other countries, and in terms of inputs embedded in manufactured goods. To harness the potential of digital trade in services, both the regulation of the digital means by which a service is traded and the regulation of the services themselves ...

This in-depth analysis discusses issues in trade in digitally deliverable services and the geopolitics of digital trade policy. Digitally deliverable services are becoming increasingly important for global value chains, both in terms of final products exported to other countries, and in terms of inputs embedded in manufactured goods. To harness the potential of digital trade in services, both the regulation of the digital means by which a service is traded and the regulation of the services themselves have to be accommodative. Digital trade policy is still in its infancy, and many challenges in terms of policy and measurement remain. Looking at regulation of data flows, the EU’s focus on privacy policy is incompatible with the laissez-faire approach pursued by the US administration and the political control of the internet by the Chinese government, limiting the potential for trade in digitally deliverable services and plurilateral agreements on digital trade. However, a number of other major economies are following similar approaches to the EU, which creates the potential for cooperation and intensifying trade in digital services. The EU should also increase its competitiveness in this strategically important services sector by completing the single market with respect to services and capital, and by strengthening research and development in digital technologies.

Extern avdelning

Georgios PETROPOULOS, André SAPIR, Michele FINK, Niclas Frederic POITIERS, Dennis GÖRLICH

The functioning of the Internal Market for Digital Services: responsibilities and duties of care of providers Challenges and opportunities

29-10-2020

The original full study reflects on responsibilities and duties of care of online intermediaries as set out in Directive 2000/31/EC (E-Commerce Directive, ECD) and gives recommendations for a possible future EU Digital Services Act.

The original full study reflects on responsibilities and duties of care of online intermediaries as set out in Directive 2000/31/EC (E-Commerce Directive, ECD) and gives recommendations for a possible future EU Digital Services Act.

Extern avdelning

Prof. Dr Jan Bernd NORDEMANN.

Digital Services Act

14-10-2020

Parliament is due to vote during the October II plenary session on three reports from the Committees on Internal Market and Consumer Protection, Legal Affairs, and Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs setting out the Parliament’s initial position on the revision of the EU framework for online services ahead of the Commission's expected proposal of a Digital Services Act package.

Parliament is due to vote during the October II plenary session on three reports from the Committees on Internal Market and Consumer Protection, Legal Affairs, and Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs setting out the Parliament’s initial position on the revision of the EU framework for online services ahead of the Commission's expected proposal of a Digital Services Act package.

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