Euro law bars e-economy

David Bicknell

European legal specialists have warned that ambitious European Commission plans to push through electronic commerce legislation by the end of the year are doomed to failure.

The EC wants to drive through legislation covering copyright, distance selling of financial services and electronic money along with with Brussels and Rome conventions covering EU contractual law to help Europe catch up with the US in the field of electronic commerce.

But Mike Pullen, a legal expert in the Brussels office of Dibb Lupton Allsop, said the plans - the brainchild of European IT commissioner Erkki Liikanen - are likely to be railroaded by national interests and existing non-Internet friendly legislation.

Similar plans to create a .eu Internet domain name are also unlikely to be as simple to push through as EU officials would like to think.

Pullen said a series of hurdles face the legislative agenda. He highlighted doubts recently about e-commerce legislation with a conference focusing on the problems of how European jurisdiction should be applied.

Pullen said, "The directives could only go through by the end of the year, if no-one raises any objections. But directives on distance selling and the non-contractual liability covered under the Brussels and Rome conventions are likely to take longer. As for the .eu domain name, firstly the proposal needs to get political approval from European member nations, then the EU will need to apply to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers."

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This was first published in February 2000


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