Foreign Policy Blogs

Online shopping – the EU enters the market.

The EU has started to take the issue of online shopping seriously recently given that a 2006 study estimated 56% of Europeans shopped online. It’s a multi-million (or maybe billion?) Euro market so it’s not surprising that the EU’s actions have attracted the attention of interested parties. As I noted in February Karl Lagerfeld came to Brussels to meet on the issue of the selling of luxury goods over the internet (which is bad for brand-owners as it “cheapens” teh brand) . The EU has come to the conclusion that luxury brand owners such as Lagerfeld should be able to insist that distributors sell both online as well as in regular “real-world” stores, a poke in the eye for ebay. But it’s not made up its mind entirely and has opened a public consultation on the matter here.

In May the EU also highlighted that it will seek to harmonise rules for the selling of digital conent throughout the EU. This will mean (for example) that an EU consumer cannot be stopped from dowloading a song from another EU country because the licence does not cover sale in the consumer’s country (an extremely frustrating experience for me especially when trying to dowload new Belgian music on my Irish credit card). EU Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding stated “in the EU, consumer rights online should not depend on where a company or website is based. National borders should no longer complicate European consumers’ lives when they go online to buy a book or download a song” . “In spite of progress made, we need to ensure that there is a single market for consumers as well as businesses on the web.” I agree heartily – please hurry up!

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Author

David Garrahy

David Garrahy works in Brussels monitoring European Union activites. He is originally from Ireland and studied a Degree in Law & European Studies at the University of Limerick before earning a Masters in Globalisation at Dublin City Universty. Previously he has worked in the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, the European Commission and as a Legislative Aide for an Irish Senator. His involvement in the EU has included working for the Irish Forum on Europe and campaigning in Referenda in favour of the Nice & Lisbon Treaties.

Area of Focus
Europe; Globalisation; European Comission.

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