It has been lately a general trend in Brussels and Strasbourg to act rather in favor of the consumers than of retailers, suppliers and other partners within the supply chain. The latest example of this is a Green Paper, issued by the European Commission (COM (2006) 744 final), that proposes to change legislation on internet and mail order services and to reinforce the providers’ accountability for their actions.

So far, a Finnish consumer purchasing products through the web from a Portuguese mail-order retailer had to accept the purchase conditions dictated by Portuguese law. Now the Commission is trying to turn the table around with a bill asking mail order dealers to meet the requirements of each single state of the European Union. What this means is that the Portuguese dealer will have to offer his terms of delivery in all languages officially recognized within the European Union of 27 member states. And he has to fulfill the various terms valid in the respective countries. The Commission’s Green Paper is more widely aimed at stimulating consumers’ confidence in the internal market by ensuring a high level of protection across the EU.

EMOTA, the European mail order lobby, sees itself and its members widely concerned by this paper. The German association BVH, e.g., is more explicit, arguing that this sort of “principle of the consumers’ home land” for international retailing should not be introduced into European business. It says that no enterprise can follow the civil law of the all 27 various member states. Sellers of SMU’s just cannot afford the cost of the related legal advice.