The EU proposes new legislation to improve cross border sales

EU firms could trade more easily in other member states and cross-border shoppers would be better informed of their rights under the proposed Common European Sales Law backed by the European Parliament Legal Affairs Committee in Brussels this week.

The Common European Sales Law is a very useful piece of proposed legislation which will add legal certainty in cross-border online contracts. Consumers and traders will be able to benefit to the full from the potential offered by the internal market.

The Common European Sales Law (CESL) introduces a uniform set of EU-wide rules for cross-border sales, to be applied on a voluntary basis. The aim is to boost business in the internal market by overcoming trade barriers resulting from differences in national contract law.

The Legal Affairs Committee, of which I am a substitute member,  voted to restrict the new law’s scope to distance selling, emphasizing the benefits it would bring to internet shopping in particular.

Under the new Common European Sales Law consumers will enjoy a very high level of consumer protection and it will also allow online traders to sell on the basis of one genuine European set of rules throughout the internal market.

The new sales law aims to help businesses enter new markets without having to pay the extra costs incurred by having to adapt to different rules in different member states. It would enable firms to offer products in a number of member states under the same contract rules.

For consumers this could mean a wider range of products available at lower prices. The proposal also builds consumers’ confidence in online shopping by clarifying their rights when purchasing products from other EU countries. For example, if a customer orders a product online from a different country under the CESL and it proves to be faulty a range of remedies would be available, such as termination of the contract, replacement or repair of the product, or a price reduction.

Since it is voluntary, the Common European Sales Law will only apply if both parties to the contract, the seller and the buyer, voluntarily agree to it. If they do not opt for it, the existing national rules will apply.

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