Lisbon Treaty Will Break Down National Barriers To E-Commerce


Due to pass into law in early December, the Lisbon Treaty should help make online transactions between countries simpler, according to European authorities

The European Commission has outlined the potential for IT to expand Europe’s economy, including its ability to create a single copyright system for the whole region once the Lisbon Treaty is signed-off.

In comments made at the Creating Impact For An eUnion 2015 held this week in Visby, Sweden, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media Viviane Reding highlighted the importance of developing high-speed broadband networks using fixed and mobile technology, which will help European businesses and societies develop IT skills and expertise.

Reding also went on to discuss the importance of breaking down national barriers that were blocking the potential of e-commerce across the region – something that would be made easier given the recent agreement on the Lisbon treaty.

“A single EU copyright title will be very important to put into practice. As of 1 December the new Lisbon treaty will be in place and article 118 of the Lisbon Treaty now permits us to do this,” said Reding.

The commissioner’s comments are based on a continuing campaign by the European body to tackle what it sees as the barriers to online commerce in the region, thanks to different member states’ approach to internet transactions. Last month a survey by the EC revealed that 60 percent of cross-border online shopping attempts fail, because many retailers refuse to ship products to key countries within the European Union.

The EC is taking several measures to improve online commerce across Europe, including simplifying cross-border rules for retailers. “Currently some retailers must deal with several tax authorities, face different national rules on recycling electronic waste, and may end up paying copyright levies in several countries for the same goods,” the EC said in a recent statement.

The EC believes the internet is the fastest growing retail channel and, in 2008, 51 percent of EU retailers sold online. However the commission explained that the gap between domestic and cross-border e-commerce is widening as a result of barriers to online trade. While the share of EU consumers who shop online grew from 27 percent to 33 percent between 2006 and 2008, the share of those who bought anything online from another EU country was stagnant at six percent during the same time period.

“Achieving a digital single market is a top priority for Europe”, said Reding. “We won’t have a real digital economy until we remove all barriers to online transactions, also for end-consumers. This must be on top of the list of all policy initiatives to re-launch the single market project.”

The Lisbon Treaty – an agreement which its architects claim is designed to make the EU “more democratic, more transparent and more efficient” – has now been ratified by all member states and is expected to become law in early December. It contains a number of measures that alter the structure of existing European agreement including removal of national vetoes on climate change, energy security and emergency aid.

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