The European Commission has long recognised that the development of electronic commerce and of online services offers enormous potential with much economic and social benefits emphasising that the internet economy is capable of creating more than double jobs for every ‘off-line’ job lost, and this apart from the fact that the consumers have a much better choice at lower prices.
However, there still exist many and varied obstacles which tend to prevent consumers and businesses from investing fully in online services, such obstacles being primarily ignorance or uncertainty about the applicable rules, lack of transparency, modes of payments and manner of delivery that is more often than not, certainly expensive.
On the 11 January, 2012, as part of the Digital Agenda, the Single Market Act and in response to the request from the European Council to submit a roadmap for the completion of the Digital Single Market by 2012, the European Commission adopted a Communication presenting sixteen (16) targeted initiatives aimed at doubling the share of e-commerce in retail sales and that of the Internet sector in European GDP by 2015. Indeed, it has been estimated that by 2015, online trade and services could account for more than 20 % of growth and consequently, of net job creation in some Member States.
John Dalli, Commissioner responsible for Consumer Policy, Michel Barnier, Commissioner responsible for the Internal Market and Neelie Kroes, Commission Vice-President responsible for the Digital Agenda, expressed their ambitious objective for 2015 as follows: “In the difficult circumstances facing Europe we must seize every source of activity and new jobs as a matter of urgency. The action plan we are presenting today will create new opportunities for citizens and businesses and will bring Europe much-needed growth and employment. It aims to remove the obstacles which until now have frustrated the development of Europe's Internet economy."
The action plan launched jointly by the three Commissioners is intended to facilitate cross-border access to online products, addressing the current problems of payment, inefficient deliveries, adequate protection and information for consumers as well as better management of illegal products bought online with the relative implications of cybercrime which has proven much difficult to control, thus helping to develop an Internet that is more secure and more respectful of fundamental rights and freedoms, fostering further confidence in online purchasing across all Member States.
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