The European Parliament has given its approval to the e-commerce framework directive, its second and last major political hurdle in the EU legislative process, which means that it is likely to become national law within the next 18 months.
It is a broad-based law, aimed at setting minimum standards for Internet businesses, assisting the creation of a cross-border European Union cyber-market. The directive is the lynchpin of the European Commission's E-Europe initiative, by which Brussels aims to promote a flourishing electronic-commerce sector in Europe.
By the snail's-pace standards of EU institutions, the directive has been agreed quickly, with MEPs agreeing not to amend the proposal as agreed by the Council of Ministers - which represents member states - allowing it to become European law almost immediately.
Internal market commissioner Frits Bolkestein has said he will be vigilant to ensure that member states "implement the directive in national legislation correctly and on time".
What the EC directive requires
The directive will also ensure that penalties for violations of E-commerce rules are effective and dissuasive. Commissioner Bolkestein said, "This landmark decision will foster the growth of e-commerce in Europe."