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New EU proposals on digital market still fail to meet needs of consumers and small firms

25 May 2016

New EU proposals on digital market still fail to meet needs of consumers and small firms

Foto: SP

The European Commission today presented new proposals for the digital market. The proposals will affect all on-line purchases. While the proposals do take into account the interests of smaller firms and of consumers, they fail to offer an immediate solution to a number of practical problems, as SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong explains: “The Commission wants to harmonise all of the rules governing on-line purchases and create one big market. There’s nothing illogical about that, but because they want to deal with everything at once, there’s a danger that real problems for smaller firms and consumers won’t be resolved.”

Many smaller firms feel discriminated against in relation to what are known as ‘internet platforms’. “The Commission recognises that on-line visibility is often difficult for smaller businesses when it comes to the results of search engines such as Google, or price-comparison sites,” says De Jong. “Big firms simply have more money for this sort of platform and the consumer as a result doesn’t get a complete overall view of what’s on offer. Despite this being an acute problem for smaller companies the Commission is first of all going to spend a further six months looking into whether it can be solved through self-regulation. That’s an opportunity gone. Every day that a firm isn’t to be found on the platforms incurs costs and further undermines what’s already far from being a level playing field. As spokesman on this issue for the United Left Group in the European Parliament, to which the SP is affiliated, I’ll be asking the Commission to show more energy and decisiveness.”

A practical problem which many consumers face is the rip-off price of many concert tickets. “In its proposals the Commission makes a lot of fuss about a website which offers tickets of this kind having to charge the same price throughout the EU,” notes De Jong. “All well and good, but a much greater problem is the lack of transparency from the various distributors offering the tickets. What can happen is that large lots are sold privately while on the organiser’s site itself the tickets are sold out in no time. Then other dealers sell them on-line for exorbitant prices. I’m going to ask the Commission today to pay attention to this matter too.”

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