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EU admits e-commerce drive failure

THE European Union's drive to stimulate e-commerce has failed to inspire public confidence in making purchases over the Internet,...

THE European Union's drive to stimulate e-commerce has failed to inspire public confidence in making purchases over the Internet, the European commissioner for consumer policy has admitted.

Keith Nuthall

Addressing a conference on the e-economy at the European Parliament, commissioner David Byrne said, "The reality, as opposed to the rhetoric, of business-to-consumer electronic commerce is, to put it mildly, disappointing."

Byrne said e-commerce was "an insignificant part" of final consumption within the EU, significantly below 1% of total retail sales. "We are confronted with the e-confidence barrier," he said.

"I would have thought that the very existence and scale of the e-confidence barrier would have provided sufficient impetus for all concerned to put sectional or ideological differences to one side," he added.

On the question of regulation to boost consumer confidence, Byrne said he saw advantages in the approach favoured in the US, where the legal framework defines any breach, even of a voluntary commitment, as equivalent to a legal infringement, with all that implies.

This was first published in March 2001

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