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EU negotiators agree on new consumer protections for online shopping

EU negotiators agree on new consumer protections for online shopping
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New rules will better protect online shoppers across the European Union and make it easier for businesses to trade cross-border.

The measures, which were proposed by the European Commission in 2015 and came into force at the beginning of February 2019, are aimed at breaking down internet barriers across the European Union. They are also intended to boost e-commerce and help European businesses in a field dominated by US giants such as Amazon.

Only 15 per cent of European consumers shop from websites in other EU countries, while almost three times as many shop domestically online, the commission said in its proposal.

Under the new rules, agreed in principle by EU lawmakers and member states, all European consumers will enjoy similar rights if goods they buy are faulty.

This includes an obligation for the seller to provide updates for "smart" goods with a software element; the right to choose between the repair or replacement of a defective product as well as a price reduction or cancellation if the issue cannot be fixed; and a two-year guarantee period if defects occur.

"Consumers will now be better protected when they buy a shirt in a shop, a smart fridge online or download music," said Romanian Justice Minister Tudorel Toader, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency between January and June 2019.

"Companies will be able to cut red tape when they want to expand and start selling across the [EU]," he added.

Commission Vice President Andrus Ansip and EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova said in a statement that the agreement would "boost consumers' confidence and therefore also business."

The deal, which was welcomed by the European Consumer Organisation, now requires the official approval of the European Parliament and member states - a move that is expected to be a formality.

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