European citizens are enthusiastic users of online services. In 2014, around half of all EU consumers shopped online, according to European Commission press release. Yet, only around 15% of them bought online from a seller based in another EU Member State.
This indicates that significant cross-border barriers to e-commerce still exist within the EU. For example, technical barriers, such as geo-blocking, may prevent consumers from accessing certain websites on the basis of their residence or credit-card details.
The European commissioner Margrethe Vestager has therefore decided to propose to the College of Commissioners to launch a competition inquiry in the e-commerce sector, to contribute to the Commission’s objectives of achieving a Digital Single Market.
The sector inquiry will focus on private – and in particular contractual – barriers to cross-border e-commerce in digital content and goods. In the course of the inquiry the Commission intends to gather information from a large number of stakeholders in all Member States.
Commissioner Vestager stressed: “It is high time to remove remaining barriers to e-commerce, which is a vital part of a true Digital Single Market in Europe. The envisaged sector inquiry will help the Commission to understand and tackle barriers to e-commerce to the benefit of European citizens and business.”
„Though Libra has met with fierce resistance from central banks and supervisory authorities and might never see the light of day, in many other cases tech firms (both start-ups and established big players) have successfully captured bits and pieces of universal banks’ traditional value chain. This trend may only intensify in the coming years. In this environment, European banks remain squeezed.”