Page last updated at 07:58 GMT, Monday, 23 June 2008 08:58 UK

EBay criticises EU trading laws

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eBay is flying the flag for online traders

Online auction giant eBay is to lobby the European Parliament about what it described as "last century" trading rules.

It claims that consumers are being prevented from making savings by rules that, for example, restrict cross-border trading online.

It said that traditional manufacturers are exploiting outdated regulatory laws to limit the impact of online trading.

It is planning to head a coalition of online traders lobbying for change.

"Entrenched manufacturers want to continue making money as they did in the 1950s, but the business models have to adapt for the new economy," said eBay's head of EU liaison Paloma Castro.

It has identified four regulatory bottlenecks that it said is allowing manufacturers to maintain a policy of market segmentation - essentially different pricing models for different regions.

Review needed

With the current credit crunch hitting consumers' wallets, Ms Castro believes it is an ideal issue for MEPs to campaign on.

"Currently it is estimated that online shopping puts 17% of savings in the average household basket. Looking at these rules could make those savings even better," she said.

To this end, eBay has already secured the interest of two EU commissioners: Meglena Kuneva, who heads up consumer protection, and Charlie McCreevy, internal market and services commissioner.

It also has the support of representatives from the four main political groups in the European Parliament.

Its Call for Action paper will be launched on Tuesday 24 June and asks for the EU to look at the regulatory framework for distribution agreements, trademark rules and service and consumer provision.

It wants to end the practice of charging different prices in different regions and replace it with one global price for goods.

"With the weak dollar, loads of people are looking to buy goods online from the US but, in most cases, you can't do it," said Ms Castro.


EBay is also critical of the practice of offering goods to web stores at a higher price than they are offered to offline shops and the reluctance of some well-known brands to trade online at all.

"Certain brands want to close down online distribution channels," said Ms Castro.

EBay is hopeful that a review of the rules governing online trade will be looked at by the European Parliament but it admits that breaking down rules that restrict cross-border and international trading will take longer to change.

It hopes to form a coalition of online traders by the end of the year.

"At this stage we just want to raise awareness with consumers that they aren't getting the best deal," said Ms Castro.

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