Robert Kneschke - Fotolia
European governments are failing to create the right legal and business climate for e-commerce to flourish and risk falling further behind the US as it strides ahead in the new economy.
That is the key concern of business leaders in an extensive survey of the e-commerce strategies of more than 600 European, US and South African firms carried out by Andersen Consulting.
The findings are likely to embarrass the Government - which has touted the UK as a haven for e-business - as it prepares to release its own e-commerce progress report this week.
Directors in the survey, published last week, were concerned that the legal and business climate for e-commerce in Europe was less favourable than in the US. They fear that, coupled with the prolonged skills shortage, this could curb the future growth of e-commerce in Europe.
But on a more positive note 97% of those surveyed are engaged in e-commerce. Fear of being overtaken by rivals was the main reason given for e-commerce initiatives.
While acknowledging the efforts of the European Commission to foster e-commerce, the report warned the commission that more progress is needed in both private and public sectors if Europe is to compete with the US in e-commerce.
"It is vitally important that the continent's leading players, from business to government, understand that getting the 'e' right is not only a matter utilising the power of information technologies," said Vernon Ellis, international chairman of Andersen Consulting. "It is essential that this is linked to revitalised entrepreneurial spirit."