As part of a number of initiatives connected to its Digital Single Market Strategy, the European Commission launched an inquiry into the e-commerce sector in the EU in May 2015.

The Commission is concerned by slow growth in cross-border online sales within the EU, and so the inquiry’s aim is to focus on potential barriers to cross-border online trade in high volume e-commerce goods.

The Commission is understood to have sent out a new round of questionnaires on 27 November 2015 to manufacturers of branded goods such as cosmetics, sportswear, clothing and electronic goods, toys and household appliances, with a deadline for responding set for mid-January 2016.  In previous rounds the Commission has contacted digital content owners (movies, TV, music and sports), manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers of clothing, electronics, video games, digital media, e-books, cosmetics and homeware and also web platforms.

The Commission is set to analyse obstacles faced by online retailers which are not necessarily faced by traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers and territorial restrictions placed on resellers. A preliminary report is expected to be published mid-2016 followed by a final report in early 2017.

What can your business do to prepare?

  • Alert senior management that they may receive a questionnaire.
  • Check your dawn raid and/or compliance training is up to date.
  • Review distribution arrangements and ensure appropriate regulatory intervention clauses are in place.