European Commission to set up a website to compare parcel delivery prices
The European Commission is to set up a website to compare parcel delivery prices, which it says “should help to increase consumer confidence in cross-border shopping and shipping”.
This is one of a number of measures set to be introduced, following the vote in the European Parliament today (13 March) in favour of new e-commerce rules.
According to a statement issued on the official European Parliament website, 604 MEPs voted in favour, 80 against, and there were 12 abstentions.
The statement added: “Parcel delivery service providers will be required to provide their tariffs for a predefined list of most used services. The Commission will publish the prices on a dedicated website to enable consumers and businesses to compare domestic and cross border tariffs between member states and between providers and opt for the best deal. By contributing to healthy competition, the new regulation should encourage the reduction of unreasonable differences between tariffs.
“According to a public consultation by the EU Commission, over two thirds of consumers have given up on making online purchases, because they feel that cross-border delivery costs are too high. The cross-border parcel prices are on average 3 to 5 times higher than their domestic equivalents for all products, according to a 2015 study.
“While densely populated urban areas and high volume businesses attract competition in the parcel delivery sector, SMEs and individuals in remote areas face little choice and high prices.
“The rules also empower national authorities to assess tariffs for cross-border parcel delivery services which are subject to universal service obligation but seem unreasonably high.”
The MEPs voting in favour of the proposal believe that the new rules will put a stronger emphasis on providing information to consumers making cross-border purchases on prices, cross border delivery options and complaint handling policies.
That sounds like a reasonable platform to which no one would object.
However, there will be some in the parcel industry who will not be so pleased with some of the other rules.
Most notably, there are concerns about the amount of commercially sensitive information they might be obliged to hand over.
As the EP statement puts it: “Operators will also be required to disclose turnover, the number of parcels delivered, the number and status of employees, information on subcontractors and complaint handling procedures to national authorities to give a better overview of how the growing sector is developing and to identify possible market failures.”
Delivery service providers with less than 50 employees and operating only in one country are exempted.
The EP statement quoted the London MEP Lucy Anderson saying: “These new rules are an important element of the Commission’s Digital Single Market strategy in supporting e-commerce growth as part of a modern and fair social Europe They will help to make tariffs and employment practices more transparent and offer a better deal for consumers and small businesses ordering cross-border parcels.”
The draft rules will now need endorsement from the Council of Ministers.