In this context, the Working Group invited Vice President of the European Parliament, Diana Wallis, who is the Rapporteur on this file, to have an exchange of views with EFTA experts. It was also the first time that the EFTA Working Group on Consumer Affairs invited business and consumer representatives (BUSINESSEUROPE and BEUC) to their meeting.
Ms Wallis explained that given the economic and financial crisis, there was a need to trigger more activity in the Internal Market, in particular when it came to SMEs. In her meetings held with stakeholders in her constituency, mostly small businesses operating in the UK market, this proposal had been received in a positive way and even the SME organisation in the UK, which is usually very sceptical towards other European initiatives, strongly supported the proposal for a CESL.
A number of organisations have, on the other hand, raised concerns regarding the proposal, the most problematic issue being the level of consumer protection. According to Diana Wallis, the foreseen level of consumer protection as it stands in the proposal is high and the result of a compromise, which is why the proposal would not go through if either the European Parliament or the Council wished to reduce it. Ms Wallis informed the group that six hearings on the matter will take place in the JURI Committee.
Members of the Working Group explained to Ms Wallis that in some of the EEA EFTA States the file had been put forward for a public hearing and that, although there was no official position yet, the EEA EFTA States had expressed their preliminary views on the dossier. Norway submitted a comment to the file in January 2011 and an EEA EFTA Comment was submitted to the EU side in June 2011.
Ms Wallis concluded the discussion by saying she looked forward with interest to seeing the results of the hearings in the EEA EFTA States, and would welcome any further input from the EEA EFTA States on this matter.
The meeting with Ms Wallis was followed by a meeting with stakeholders. Both the business representative (BUSINESSEUROPE) and the consumer organisation (BEUC) stated that there were concerns regarding the proposal and that in their view there was no evidence that legal fragmentation was causing a major challenge to cross-border e-commerce.
To see the Commission's proposal, click here.
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