The E-Commerce Directive has already boosted the take-up of online services in Europe and will prove increasingly vital to the continent’s overall economy, according to the first report into application of the legislation.
The European Union directive is now in force in 12 member states, including the UK. It is designed to provide legal certainty for businesses and consumers when using online services by adopting harmonised rules on issues such as electronic contracts and commercial communications.
The European Commission report, released last week, said the legislation, by applying to e-commerce the internal market principle of the freedom to provide services, is already "having a substantial and positive effect" on online services.
With 54% of European internet users expected to shop online by 2006, the successful application of the directive will be increasingly vital to the EU economy, the report said.
Frits Bolkestein, internal market commissioner, said, “The EU's directive is helping e-commerce to take off in the internal market by ensuring that Europe's e-commerce entrepreneurs can take full advantage of a domestic market of more than 370 million consumers. Real online success stories are emerging. But things change rapidly in this sector, so we cannot sit back. We now need to make sure that the directive continues to work well over the next few years, in an enlarged European Union.”
The report said that, given continuing technological innovations and the rapid growth of e-commerce, the European Commission will need to keep a close eye on the application of the directive.
It will work with member states to improve both information to businesses and citizens and the exchange of information among national and European authorities, the report added.