The European Union has unveiled a long-term strategy to help its technology companies compete with U.S. giants like Google and Amazon by unifying the continent's digital sector and taking a hard line on abuses by dominant firms.
EU Commissioner Andrus Ansip said Wednesday that the EU is still far too fragmented across its 28 national markets and needs more common rules to be competitive. He claimed new plans to unite the digital economy should help create jobs and growth on a continent still struggling to emerge from the financial crisis.
At the same time, the Commission opened an inquiry into the sector to see where open competition is stifled, especially when it comes to cross-border online trade in sectors like electronics and clothing. The inquiry would look at the way that companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook or e-Bay handle online trade.
The strategy involves creating more unified regulation of the Internet. The plan is to make e-commerce easier across borders by harmonizing rules on contracts and consumer protection when people buy products online ranging from furniture and shoes to e-books or apps.
The rules would be enforced more rapidly and consistently.
It would try to end practices like geo-blocking, which stops customers from using websites in another country, as they can increase prices, for example for car rentals at a foreign vacation destination.
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