EU eCommerce baseline report – a milestone towards facilitating cross-border eTrade between EU and Eastern partner countries

  • Date: 15/07/20
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In June 2020, the EU4Digital Facility’s eCommerce team achieved a significant milestone, developing a baseline report on cross-border eCommerce in the EU, which provides a benchmark to assess the state of play of eCommerce in the Eastern partner countries. Later, this assessment will result in recommendations to harmonise eCommerce between the Eastern partner countries and the EU.

What is the EU eCommerce baseline report?

EU4Digital experts developed this report as a part of the eCommerce activity of EU4Digital Facility’s eTrade thematic area.

The eCommerce baseline report describes the state of play of cross-border eCommerce in the EU, showing how eCommerce operates in the EU in three areas: legal, standards and ecosystem of eCommerce. The report answers the question of  how eCommerce works in the EU, leading to the next step of what and how to harmonise eCommerce between the EU and the Eastern partner countries.

The finalised EU baseline report is a significant milestone as it provides the following:

  1. A structured view of EU best practices and norms to analyse the eCommerce state of play in the Eastern partner countries;
  2. Basis for the gap analysis and recommendations to harmonise cross-border eCommerce in the Eastern partner countries with the EU.

How experts’ knowledge is used to shape the baseline

The report has been developed in cooperation with senior EU experts. They provided input based on their in-depth experience in: 

  • Participation in drafting and reviewing of the EU eCommerce legislation; 
  • Participation in the international organisations related to eCommerce, such as the Universal Postal Union (UPU) and eCommerce associations; 
  • Practical understanding of eCommerce processes in the EU and the Eastern partner countries. 

Additionally, the eCommerce Working group provided feedback during the development of the baseline. The Working group includes representatives from the Eastern partner countries. 

Representatives from the Eastern partner countries discussed the baseline during the EU4Digital: eTrade Network, 8thworkshop event.

What are the key highlights from the baseline?

The EU baseline focuses on the aspects important for cross-border eCommerce harmonisation: 

  • 70 key aspects identified in the legislation area. These include aspects of consumer protection, parcel delivery, key aspects of UPU obligations, security of network and information systems, geo-blocking, data protection, liability of online intermediaries and other areas. 
  • 40 key aspects identified in the standards area. These include aspects from CEN (European Committee for Standardisation) work in topics such as quality of services, interoperability, electronic advanced data, and digital customs pre-declarations on items level. The aspects also include interoperability between CEN and UPU standards. 
  • 45 key aspects identified in the ecosystem area. These include aspects from the cross-border supply chain, eCommerce marketplaces, taxation, payments, logistics and supply chain. 

The baseline provides a unique insight in all three areas: 

  • Legislation: the eCommerce legislation package has a major impact on eCommerce as it comes into force in July 2021. It includes the new rules to move commercial items across the border, and also  sets a new process to pay taxes through the Import One Stop Shop system. 
  • Standards: the key standards for cross-border commercial item delivery. It includes applicability and interoperability of CEN standards and UPU standards. Depending on an eCommerce transaction, different standards may apply. 
  • eCommerce ecosystem: the new processes of cross-border supply chain. After July 2021, the eCommerce package introduces new processes to the eCommerce ecosystem. These processes need new stakeholders. The EU and the Eastern partner countries must involve these stakeholders.

When the benefits of this activity will be unlocked

The EU baseline is just the basis of this eCommerce study. The EU and Eastern partner countries can expect the full value and benefits of it after the recommendations for harmonisation of cross-border eCommerce are shaped. The EU4Digital team plans to shape the recommendations in August 2020. Later, the team will design a pilot solution to facilitate cross-border eCommerce. This is planned for October 2020 – June 2021.