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Brussels to build single cybermarket

No national restrictions on buying sprouts via the Net, demands EC

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The European Commission wants to establish a single market on the Internet to help develop e-commerce within the EU. If accepted, the proposals would eliminate national restrictions on the use of electronic media, enabling people to trade freely. Online businesses would be allowed to offer their services anywhere in the EU as long as they complied with the laws in the country in which they were based. "The Single Market's legal framework, combined with the single currency, provide the EU with a unique opportunity to facilitate the development of electronic commerce," said Mario Monte, single market commissioner. "This proposal should ensure that the Union reaps the full benefits of electronic commerce by boosting consumer confidence and giving operators legal certainty, without excessive red tape." But the proposals have been attacked by consumer groups claiming that far from simplifying matters, they will make them worse. The European consumers' association (Beuc) argues that shoppers will have to understand the laws of all the member countries if they want to buy anything. When people discover that the consumer protection rules they're used to in their own country don't apply in the country they're dealing with, Beuc argues this would undermine consumer confidence and dent the development of e-commerce in Europe. ®

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