The European Commission is planning to put forward the first legislative proposals under its Digital Single Market strategy on 9 December. The proposals will fall within the ambit of “Better access for consumers and businesses to digital goods and services across Europe” – but that covers a range of different issues, so we’re still not sure what will emerge by the end of the year.
As a reminder, the Commission has been looking at the following issues in this area:
Contractual framework for cross-border online sales
There are some complex contractual and conflict of laws issues to be tackled, but the Commission may have been dusting off some of their old thinking for the (now defunct) Common European Sales Law. The DSM strategy paper had committed them to producing legislative proposals on this by the end of 2015, so there’s a good chance that we’ll see something on this issue.
Although relevant to digital content and copyright reform, this relates more widely to companies blocking website sales in other Member States. The Commission thinks that “in many cases” geo-blocking practices are unjustified. However, they may prefer to get other issues resolved before pushing ahead with this – for example, it’s easier to justify getting businesses to open up their sales cross-border if the existing contractual framework has been improved. In any event the DSM Strategy paper indicated that proposals would come in the first half of 2016.
As reported on Lime Green IP News, it seems likely that we’ll get the Commission’s plans for copyright reform (including widening cross-border access to A/V content) on 9 December.
Cross-border parcel delivery
With a potential impact on the practical (and cost) side of e-commerce, reforms to transparency and regulation of cross-border parcel delivery could be key in achieving the Commission’s dream of increasing cross-border e-commerce. We’ll probably have to wait until 2016 to see how they plan to do this.
Reducing VAT complexity
The Commission wants to reduce the complexity and cost of compliance of VAT rules, including in light of the new “place of supply” rules that were implemented on 1 January 2015. However, the consultation is still ongoing so we won’t see any proposals for some time.