Several documents have already been published by the Commission since the launch of its survey on cross-border e-commerce to help the Commission pursue its objective of establishing a digital single market. The aim is to identify and remove public and private barriers to it. The subject affects large companies as well as SMEs, suppliers as well as distributors, in all types of sectors. We therefore wanted to take stock of the various issues raised by cross-border e-commerce.
The framework for vertical restraints
The investigation, based on Article 17 of Regulation 1-2003, is more broadly a review by the Commission of all aspects of the European market in the digital sector. It was launched by the Competition Commissioner, who was concerned about possible barriers to buying goods online. She wished to determine the possible detrimental effect of such obstacles on competition and consumers.
The timetable is rather tight: the survey was launched on 6 May 2015; by June already 2500 questionnaires had been sent out. On 18 March preliminary conclusions on geographical blocking were presented, and on 25 May the Commission made proposals on a number of rules (geoblocking, cross-border parcel delivery, etc.). The first report is expected in mid-2016 and the final report in the first quarter of next year.