Electronic commerce – or eCommerce – refers to the sale of goods through electronic transactions carried out on computer networks. While the EU is a single market that allows the free exchange of goods and services between member states, goods and services cannot easily be exchanged between the EU and Eastern partner countries, due to differences in eCommerce legislation, standards and ecosystem.
For example, EU businesses trading with any part of the world want to trust that goods follow general safety requirements, but face obstacles from the fact that standards and legislation in the EU and Eastern partner countries are not harmonised.
In addition, the EU introduced a new eCommerce VAT package in 2021. This wide-ranging reform affects eCommerce processes across Europe and beyond, and businesses and governments have limited awareness of its impact. In this new reality, the Eastern partner countries need support to move and adapt to electronic commerce.
EU4Digital’s eCommerce activity provides recommendations for Eastern partner countries to achieve smooth electronic trade with the EU, by focusing on harmonisation of three areas, namely:
- eCommerce ecosystem
The goal of these recommendations is to:
- Eliminate the barriers for cross-border eCommerce;
- Boost cross-border eCommerce volume;
- Increase awareness and prepare partner countries for the EU 2021 eCommerce changes.
To bring the highest value to the EU and Eastern partner countries, the analysis has been used to identify specific challenges, and to design and launch a pilot solution to address these challenges. As a result, EU4Digital launched an eCommerce pilot, establishing national virtual warehouses in three pilot countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia – to support retailers, marketplaces, delivery operators and customs to place the products for sale abroad and facilitate cross-border delivery.
The virtual warehouse logs data about products for eCommerce sale, in a format that follows EU and international requirements. Once logged into the warehouse, products can be marketed on any number of international online marketplaces such as eBay or Etsy, while the standardised data allows postal services to launch delivery and ensures seamless cross-border customs procedures.
Find out more about the eCommerce pilot: