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eBay calls for end to grey import laws

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eBay is calling on the European Union to change trading laws which it describes as being "digital protectionism".

Although it might be facing criticism from some quarters for protecting compulsory use of PayPal , eBay is asking European regulators to update online trading laws to give customers more choice of where they buy from.

It wants changes to copyright laws and distribution rules which allow companies to charge different prices in different terroritories, as well as an end to restrictions on selling between European countries.

eBay claims that punters in France, Germany and the UK could save up to 17 per cent on twelve categories of goods, but that these savings could be even higher if manufacturers were forced to stop restricting the market. Restrictive practices can include banning online sales entirely or stopping parallel, or grey, importing from one territory to another.

The company has already won the support of Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy and four members of the European Parliament.

European Consumer Protection Commissioner Meglena Kuneva said last week that there is no place for geographic restrictions within Europe's single market.

Apart from ending grey importing restrictions - where manufacturers specify which countries products can be sold in - eBay also wants a universal set of consumer protection laws, clarification of laws which ban online sales and full implementation of the EU Services Directive.

The lobby campaign launches with a cocktail party this evening in Brussels. ®

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