The retail industry is undergoing major changes, most of which have been accelerated by the COVID-19 outbreak. Electronic commerce has been crucial for the continuation of economic and societal activities in Europe. The sector has shown resilience and helped many companies accelerate or even kick-start their digital transformation, leading to the development of seamless (or omnichannel) commerce solutions. It is expected that in the long term, the pandemic has triggered permanent social and economic changes. It has become imperative for businesses and governments to invest in digital tools and literacy. Investment in digitization is also increasingly linked to a transition to a sustainable economy, to continue shaping the future of retail also after the pandemic. Both of these transitions to a more digital and greener Europe are reflected in the plans of the European Commission, which emphasize that investing in digital and sustainable infrastructure is necessary to rebuild a strong European economy.
With the New Year only months away, it is already certain that 2022 will be a decisive year for the direction and framework of European policy, with decisive legislation for the digital sector, for our transition to a circular economy, the future of our payment or logistics markets as well as taxation in the EU.
But for these ambitions to materialize, Ecommerce Europe believes that the future of EU politics must be based on key horizontal principles applicable in all relevant legislative dossiers for the e-commerce sector. These horizontal principles apply to all policy areas shaped by the European Union. Given the amount of extremely relevant legislation discussed or proposed this year, there is a clear opportunity for policy makers to take these principles into account in the legislative process.
1. Channel neutrality
Online and offline channels need to be treated equally from a regulatory perspective to ensure further development of omnichannel solutions by businesses so that consumers can ultimately enjoy a seamless shopping experience. Ecommerce Europe is advocating for channel neutrality in legislation as paramount to the success of digital retailers.
Due to the increasingly cross-border nature of e-commerce, the fragmentation of the regulatory framework within the single market adds additional obligations and burdens to businesses. Businesses have faced barriers to expanding overseas and implementing new cross-border solutions across the EU due to legal fragmentation. Ecommerce Europe advocates for more harmonized European rules, which are fundamental to alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens and create legal certainty for businesses.
To enable innovation and the growth of a strong European business climate, the regulatory framework must be clear and not impose disproportionate obligations on companies. In addition, Ecommerce Europe advocates principle-based rules.
4. Level playing field
E-commerce players active in the Union but based in third countries should respect the same rules as EU-based businesses in order to avoid creating unfair competition. Ecommerce Europe advocates for a level playing field to ensure that EU-based businesses do not suffer a competitive disadvantage compared to non-EU based players.
Enforcement of EU rules, both within the Union itself and in particular against companies based in third countries, has proven difficult, as competent national authorities often lack resources , personnel and (international) coordination. Ecommerce Europe calls on the European Commission and EU Member States to strengthen and ensure effective and efficient enforcement of EU law.
6. Suitable for SMEs
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the European economy. Many of them have embraced e-commerce and transitioned to omnichannel solutions over the past few years – and this trend is set to continue in the future. Therefore, policy makers should focus on providing financial support to SMEs and reducing administrative burdens at EU and national level, in order to give them a fair chance to compete in a changing global market. quick.
To learn more about our key principles, as well as our ambitions in the respective policy areas, please read our 2022 priority document.
About Stefano Mauro
Stefano Mauro leads the e-logistics working committee of Ecommerce Europe. Stefano has five years of experience in the EU public affairs sector and, through the e-logistics working committee, deals with different topics related to the parcel delivery market, both globally and nationally. European level. In particular, his work focuses on all EU and Universal Postal Union (UPU) issues that are relevant to e-commerce and impact postal/parcel delivery services, including VAT and customs issues, standardization and other topics.
About e-commerce in Europe
Ecommerce Europe is the voice of the e-commerce industry in Europe, representing, through its national associations, more than 150,000 businesses selling goods and services online to consumers in Europe. Ecommerce Europe acts at European level to help legislators create a better framework for online merchants, so that their sales can increase further.