New proposals for protecting consumers online


The European Commission has put forward two proposals in order to better protect consumers shopping online – no matter where in the EU the seller is situated – and to help companies expand through e-commerce.

December 9 the Commission adopted two proposals as part of its strategy for the digital single market; the provision of digital content (like music streaming) and one for online sales of physical goods (such as clothing) online.

The two proposals will tackle the main obstacles to cross-border e-commerce in the EU: legal fragmentation in the area of consumer contract law and resulting high costs for businesses – especially SMEs- and low consumer trust when buying online from another country. 

– When you download a movie or a song, it must play. If this is not the case, you should be able to get your money back. Today's proposals will give more rights to consumers on-line with a common set of EU rules instead of a patchwork of national laws, says Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market.

Reversal of the burden of proof prolonged

Consumers will benefit from a higher level of consumer protection and a wider choice of products at more competitive prices according to the commission, through the following proposals: 

  • Reversal of the burden of proof: For instance, if an Italian consumer discovers today that a product he/she purchased online more than 6 months ago is defective and asks the seller to repair or replace it, he/she may be asked to prove that this defect existed at the time of delivery. Under the proposed new rules, throughout the two-year guarantee period, the consumer will be able to ask for a remedy without having to prove that the defect existed at the time of delivery. 
  • Clear and specific rights for digital content: For instance, a consumer who downloads a game which is then not working properly may currently receive as compensation only a discount on downloading other games in the future. With the proposed directive, consumers will be able to request such problems to be fixed and, if this is not feasible or not done properly, to obtain a price reduction or terminate the contract and be fully reimbursed. 

More information is available on the webpage of the European Commission.