EU Approves New EU-Wide Online Shopping Rules

By Christina Zhang
Christina Zhang
Christina Zhang
June 24, 2011 Updated: June 24, 2011

New EU-wide rules giving consumers more protection in online shopping was approved by the European Parliament on Thursday.

The new regulations aim to stimulate growth in cross-border Internet orders within the European Union.

Although growth in EU consumer shopping online had risen from 26 percent of consumers in 2006 to 40 percent in 2010, only 7 percent have made cross-border orders to other EU countries.

The new online shopping rules were approved by a vast majority—615 votes for, 16 against and 21 abstentions—after two and a half years of negotiations.

The largest concern about online sales between member states is the difference in regulations for each nation. The new rules, therefore, will be EU-wide, resolving the main barrier.

The final approval for the regulations by the Council of Ministers is scheduled to take place in July and if passed, the new rules will be implemented across the EU within two years.

For the consumers, the new rules will give them protections such as a return period policy of two weeks, as customers will be able to cancel their orders if the product is not delivered within 30 days.

Other protection measures include the requirement for sellers to list contact information and hidden fees are prohibited.

In the press release, Andreas Schwab, the EU Parliament’s rapporteur and chief negotiator, called the new regulations “a good example of how more Europe brings more benefits to consumers and traders alike.”

“We have reached a well-balanced deal, which meets both calls from consumers and business interests,” said Schwab.