EU Reaches Deal on Cross-Border E-Commerce, Begins Probe

May 7, 2015

EU Reaches Deal on Cross-Border E-Commerce An agreement between the European Parliament and the European Council struck this week paves the way for more secure online payments in the EU and more choice for European consumers who want to make cross-border online purchases. The agreement, brokered by Parliament’s Monetary Affairs Committee and the Latvian Presidency of the Council, will reduce wholesale blocking of certain markets by banks, giving consumers the right to use third-party online payment accounts while giving banks the power to “deny this third party access to a payer’s payment account only for objectively justified and evidenced security reasons.” The agreement also calls for stronger authentication of consumers by payment companies.

“The EU payment services market remains fragmented and expensive, costing €130 billion ($147.4 billion), or over 1 percent of EU GDP, a year. The EU economy cannot afford these costs, if it wants to be globally competitive,” said Italian MEP Antonio Tajani. “The new regulatory framework will reduce costs, improve the security of payments and facilitate the emergence of new players and innovative new mobile and internet payment methods.”

At the same time the EU is taking steps to make cross-border e-commerce easier for consumers, a separate arm officially launched an investigation looking into the competitive situation in e-commerce in the EU. The inquiry, which was first announced just over a month ago , will focus on the product areas where e-commerce is most popular: electronics, apparel and digital content.

“European citizens face too many barriers to accessing goods and services online across borders,” said Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner in charge of competition policy. “Some of these barriers are put in place by companies themselves. With this sector inquiry my aim is to determine how widespread these barriers are and what effects they have on competition and consumers. If they are anti-competitive we will not hesitate to take enforcement action under EU antitrust rules.”