A recent Eurobarometer survey found that, although 48.5 per cent of EU households have a broadband internet connection, a lack of confidence holds many consumers back from online transactions. Only 12 per cent of those surveyed believe that transactions over the internet are completely safe, with 42 per cent not having any confidence in these transactions at all. In the European Union, 65 per cent of internet users say they do not know where to get information and advice about cross-border shopping.

A new online tool giving practical advice on the “digital rights” consumers have under EU law has been launched by the European Commission. The “eYouGuide” covers a broad range of online consumer issues, ranging from data protection information to security for online payments. A “Digital Agenda”, identifying eight priority areas for possible EU action, was also announced. These are in response to a call by the Parliament in 2007 for the Commission to implement a comprehensive and coordinated strategy for increasing consumer confidence in the digital environment as a whole. The aim of these measures is to address the low levels of cross border e-commerce trading in Europe and to bridge the gap in e-commerce between Europe and the United States and Asia. It is hoped that making consumers aware of their rights will increase confidence in the e-commerce market and ultimately boost growth.