Conservatives dig in against unwanted European sales law

18-Jun-2013 @ 13:0

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Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Conservative MEPs today vowed to resist European Commission plans to introduce a European sales law which would cover online shopping and e-commerce across the whole EU.
They warned that the proposed Common European Sales Law would help neither customers nor traders - and would have a damaging effect on the development of the digital single market.
They were responding to an appeal from the BEUC, the Europe-wide umbrella organisation for consumer groups, which called on MEPs to reject the proposals and urged commissioners to concentrate on more-effective measures to boost the digital single market.
Ashley Fox, a Conservative member of the European Parliament's Internal Market Committee, said: "We believe the proposed law is too complex and not needed anyway. The existing differences between the national contract laws of different nations are not creating any barriers to trade.
"The legislation is trying to solve problems that don't exist, yet could throw up problems all of its own. Were this new law to come into force consumers’ confusion and regulatory costs for business who sell offline and online would increase further."
As BEUC has pointed out, four different legal scenarios would then exist for:

  • off-line transactions under national law;
  • online transactions with CESL;
  • online cross-border transactions without CESL;
  • online domestic contracts under national law

with different contractual rules for the same products. This would lead to significantly different consumer rights for online and off-line contracts, for example regarding legal guarantee periods or remedies, which cannot be explained by the difference in the selling method.
There are other real and major obstacles than contract law which currently prevent consumers and companies from benefitting from the Digital Single Market. They include the difficulties small businesses have in accessing national markets due to administrative barriers, differences in tax regimes, cultural barriers such as language and digital literacy, low levels of broadband penetration, territorial limitations of intellectual property rights laws, a lack of effective redress tools for consumers and an absence of or difficulties to use e-payment systems.
Mr Fox said "The proposal for a new CESL has more to do with Commissioner Reding's political ambitions than concern for the consumer. Mrs Reding is an arch-federalist who believes that the answer is "more Europe" whatever the question might happen to be. This proposal will harm the consumer and pose a threat to the English Legal System and we are determined to stop it in its tracks."
Sajjad Karim, the Conservative MEP negotiating over the proposed legislation in the Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee, said: "One size does not fit all, especially when it comes to certain EU legislation. We have been campaigning hard to protect UK businesses and companies from this harmful proposal which will only increase burdensome red tape and make transactions more complicated for consumers."
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