eBay backs EC e-commerce overhaul

The European Commission has announced a plan to double the volume of e-commerce in Europe by 2015, with eBay welcoming the action as “incredibly important for UK business”.

According to an action plan announced by the European Commission, G8 countries have seen a 21 percent growth in GDP over the last five years following a boom in online retail.

Jobs too have received a boost, the report argues, with 2.6 jobs created for every one that is cut. We’re not sure who’s doing the maths.

However, it’s argued that much more should be done to boost the digital economy further, with a target of “doubling online sales” in Europea by 2015.

According to the report, by creating a more seamless digital single economy there will be huge benefits in many sectors, with SMEs likely to get a boost.

It doesn’t take Mary Portas to point out that the high street is suffering: Game is in a sticky situation as is HMV, not to mention Tesco and many others following a disastrous Christmas period.

Internet sales hit record levels again in the run up to the festive season, and clearly the EC hopes this can help rejuvenate Euro states’ languishing economies.

While Eurozone nations have largely been at each other’s throats in the past few months, the EC is encouraging more a more harmonious move to a single economy with greater cross-border trade.

This will involve tackling some obstacles that are currently in the way of business, according to the EC:

– the supply of legal, cross-border online services is still inadequate;

– there is not enough information for online service operators or protection for internet users;

– payment and delivery systems are still inadequate;

– there are too many cases of abuse and disputes that are difficult to settle;

– insufficient use is made of high-speed communication networks and hi-tech solutions.

The final point may cause UK consumers some problems with the implementation of 4G connections continually being pushed back. However, the EU is confident that if problems are dealt with there is a large scope to grow businesses and generate income by encouraging online sales.

The plan received the backing of online retail giant eBay, which highlighted the importance of opening doors to trade with neighbouring countries to TechEye.

“Intra-EU trade online is incredibly important for UK businesses, big and small,” eBay’s Stefan Krawczyk, senior director at eBay Europe told TechEye. “Germany, France and Ireland are the top three EU markets for eBay.co.uk’s 180,000 strong community of online businesses.”

Krawczyk tells us that eBay welcomes “any action” from the EU that will help support the growth of e-commerce. “Particularly,” Krawczyk said, “the closer alignment of different consumer rights regimes, improvement of reliable delivery systems and increased investment in mobile broadband infrastructure.

“We welcome the European Commission’s e-commerce communication, which reflects the Commission’s strong political will to do whatever it takes to take e-commerce in the EU to the next level,” Krawczyk said.

eBay also says it recognises challenges faced in reaching increased e-commerce spending targets, as part of what the EC calls a single digital economy

“The Commission recognises the great potential of e-commerce for the EU economy, but is also very lucid about the various barriers to its development,” Krawczyk told us. “Boosting cross border trade, consumer trust and supporting SMEs in developing their online business are focal points of the announced policy actions. These are also eBay’s priorities.”

Krawczyk said eBay got its way in convincing the Commission not to reopen the e-Commerce Directive, instead working on clarification of the existing directive. Otherwise it would be a “lengthy legislative process” where direct action is preferred.

“This matches eBay’s call for smart and flexible regulation of the internet and bodes well for the online businesses of hundreds of thousands of European entrepreneurs,” Krawczyk concluded.