European Parliament aims to boost online commerce

A new resolution calls for a Europe-wide 'trust-mark'

The European Parliament has backed proposals aimed at boosting consumer confidence in online shopping.

Members of Parliament voted Tuesday to create a Europe-wide "trust mark." The resolution also called on the European Commission to strengthen consumer privacy laws and on member states to fully implement the Services Directive.

Currently, only around one in three consumers would consider shopping from another E.U. country and this has caused concern among MEPs who want to see a stronger internal market for e-commerce. Online sales are often hindered by traders refusing to accept orders from foreign consumers. This is contrary to the Services Directive, which bans discrimination against consumers on the basis of their location.

MEPs believe that a European "trust mark" for websites would increase consumer confidence and should guarantee the reliability and quality of goods sold online across borders. Any new mark would have to be based on E.U. law but could be implemented at the national level. There is, therefore, the risk of confusion as various other national and voluntary online trust schemes already exist.

“It is vital that European Union leaders implement the necessary measures to overcome remaining barriers in e-commerce, and create trust and transparency so that both citizens and businesses can fully exploit its benefits," said Parliament's rapporteur Pablo Arias Echeverria.

MEPs also want to set up an early warning system including a database to combat fraud.

Lastly, Parliament has called for more harmonization in some aspects of contract law, especially regarding the handling of certain types of warranty claims.

The Commission is not due to issue a Code of E.U. Online Rights until 2012.

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Jennifer Baker

IDG News Service
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