The European Commission today accepted its work programme 2020, which proposes activities for this year. According to the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, the commission is committed to responding to the challenges of our time, such as climate change, the digital transformation and migration.
Out of the headline ambitions, especially the European Green Deal and improving competitiveness in the digital economy are important for the commerce sector. Goals set out in president von der Leyen’s guidelines will become concrete during the year and the published work programme will provide direction for the measures.
Fair conditions for competition get the attention they deserve
Examples of distortion of competition in the commerce sector include international e-commerce and the platform economy that has grown quickly in the recent years. Legislation and monitoring have not kept up and online platforms and non-EU e-commerce have gained a competitive edge in the form of evading the duties and responsibilities of EU regulations.
Fortunately, the Commission has now identified the issue. This is indicated by the Digital Services Act to be issued later this year and the upcoming report on the Single Market Barriers and the Single Market Enforcement Action Plan.
“We find it excellent that fair conditions for competition are underlined throughout the work programme. Competing with the same set of rules is essential for the functionality of the single market and for the international competitiveness of companies,” says Mari Kiviniemi, Managing Director of the Finnish Commerce Federation.
New initiatives also for consumer protection
There are also challenges related to environmental and consumer policy with border-crossing international e-commerce that is conducted outside of the European Union. Often, products sold from platforms do not fulfil EU requirements, which can endanger consumer protection and cause environmental harm.
Now, the Commission aims to tackle the question with new initiatives. In the future, more information must be provided to consumers regarding, for example, the environmental impact of products. The renewed Consumer Agenda also addresses the challenges of cross-border trade.
The Circular Economy Action Plan aims to reduce the amount of waste produced and increase recycling with waste and product policies. In addition market enforcement will be enhanced.
“It does seem that the Commission is finally going to tackle issues related to the platform economy also as it regards the trade of goods. In fact, this is a prerequisite for reaching the goals set by the Commission. It is essential for the competitiveness of the Finnish commerce sector that the high standard set by the European Union applies to all parties,” says Kiviniemi.
Mari Kiviniemi, Managing Director, Finnish Commerce Federation, tel. +358 (0)50 511 3189, firstname.lastname@example.org
Janne Koivisto, Chief Specialist, Finnish Commerce Federation, tel. +358 (0)50 321 3639, email@example.com