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[FYI] CEC Byrne: 'Making the virtual virtuous - towards a new approach to e-Consumers'
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CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2000.
Record Control Number: 14450
Category: General policy
Europe must move swiftly to overcome the consumer confidence barrier
in e-commerce to ensure the development of a Single Online Market,
said David Byrne, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection,
speaking at the European Consumer Centre in Dublin, Ireland, on 3
Speaking on behalf of the Commission, My Byrne suggested measures to
encourage quality and service in e-commerce, and to ensure legal
redress when things go wrong, allowing the European online market to
achieve the same success as in the United States.
'In this cybereconomy, without the traditional reassurance of bricks
and mortar, a new policy environment is needed to help overcome the
barriers to consumer confidence,' he said.
'And for many businesses consumer confidence is the holy grail. If we
are to succeed in bringing the European economy online we need to act
quickly to overcome the consumer confidence barrier.'
The Commissioner said the time is right for the Commission to define
a new approach to e-commerce and e-consumers, and proposed three core
elements requiring attention.
To ensure most transaction are trouble free, he said the Commission
should take steps to encourage a market environment that rewards best
business practice, such as stimulating the development of trustmarks
on the web and mobilising financial services to provide credit card
Mr Byrne also wishes to promote easy to use out of court settlement
procedures, including a range of alternative dispute resolution (ADR)
mechanisms and linking up to a network of existing EU national ADR
schemes. This would be the first step in the development of a
comprehensive redress system.
There should also be a legal safety net with the Court as last resort
in order to guarantee justice, he said.
In addition, 'the Commission should work closely with the US to set
up the rules of the game for the emerging e-commerce marketplace.
'European business can then build on its strength to develop a
competitive service culture to generate growth in the global new
To set the ground for his new e-Consumer approach, the Consumer
Protection Commissioner called upon decision makers, business and
consumer organisations to express their views on the way forward.
He pointed to several reasons why consumers do not trust e-commerce
as a transactional medium due to the inherent nature of e-commerce.
Currently the consumer bears all the transaction risk because payment
is made before receipt. Transmitting financial and personal details
also entails a security risk. In the US the weakness of 'e-tailers'
delivery operations has been highlighted prompting concerns over the
performance of the contract. Consumers report that e-commerce sites
are less tangible than a non-virtual shop, and there is some
uncertainty about how to complain or seek redress.
If something is not done to address these fears, My Byrne warned that
Europe would face a number of risks.
The Commissioner cautioned that the Single Online Market will not
develop properly as consumers continue to buy online from within
their Member State. If barriers in the minds of consumers are not
overcome, the business-consumer market will not fulfil its potential
for EU operators. There is also a danger that small and medium sized
enterprises loose out in favour of established brands and retailers.
Finally, without a Single Online Market, Europe 'will fail to develop
a thriving and competitive e-commerce sector with global reach' as in
If the right steps are taken, however, My Byrne promised the e-
economy will bring significant economic benefits for Europe.
'In the right policy environment, a dynamic service-oriented business
culture will win over consumers, increase Internet transactions and
generate growth. And Europe's e-economy could log on to a new era of
prosperity,' he said.
Data Source Provider: Rapid
Document Reference: Based on speech DN: SPEECH/00/65
Subject Index Codes: Information Processing, Information Systems