The new regulation on the digital single market proposed by the European Commission will not only protect e-commerce consumers, but - for the first time ever - also SMEs. Businesses operating on online platforms and search engines will be able to resolve possible conflicts out of court. This is the progress highlighted by the opinion drawn up by Marco Vezzani and adopted by the EESC plenary session on 19 September 2018.

According to a Commission study, almost 50% of European businesses operating on online platforms encounter problems. In 38% of cases, problems arising from contractual relations are not resolved, while in 26% they are resolved, but only with difficulty. To date, European legislation has focused on defining the relationship between businesses and consumers in online trade (B2C), whereas the relationship between businesses and online platforms (B2B) has never been dealt with decisively.

For this reason, with a view to increasing fairness and transparency, the Commission has decided to tackle the business relationship between SMEs and online platforms as part of the review of the digital single market strategy. "We welcome this Commission proposal as a first attempt to regulate B2B relations in the area of e-commerce and to protect business users of online intermediation services," said Mr Vezzani. "However, this regulation alone cannot resolve all the problems of the digital single market," he continued. "Global players and business users, in particular SMEs, have a different strength in this highly dynamic and complex market. The Commission should establish clear boundaries and relationships between stakeholders and combat abuse of a dominant position." (mp)