Brussels, 15 November 2002
Unlocking the potential of cross-border shopping in the EU: Commission publishes survey results
The Commission today published two major surveys on cross-border shopping in the EU. The surveys look at both the consumer and business experience of, and attitudes to, cross-border shopping. They are relevant in the context of the Commission's Green Paper on Consumer Protection and follow-up communication (see IP/02/842). They reveal that only 13% of EU consumers made a cross-border purchase in the last 12 months and that most of these purchases were on shopping, holiday or business trips. 45% of businesses said harmonisation would increase their cross-border sales.
Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner David Byrne said: "With the publication of this research we now have a complete picture of the attitudes of business and consumers to trading in the Internal Market. Cross-border shopping still appears to be stuck at a stubbornly low level. The regulatory obstacles we have identified do appear to be a major cause of the problem, although others need to be tackled too. Encouragingly, the potential for cross-border shopping to take-off does appear to be there, both on the part of business and consumers. There seems to be a real appetite among small and medium-sized enterprises(1), who are currently deterred by the maze of laws in operation."
The highlights of the two surveys were as follows:
The Commission's Green Paper on Consumer Protection (COM (2001) 531 final), the follow-up communication (COM (2002) 289 final) and surveys can be found at the website of the Commission's Directorate General Health and Consumer Protection:
(1) In line with the real distribution of SMEs in Europe, 85% of respondents to the business survey were small (under 50 employees), 12% medium (50-250) and under 3% large businesses.