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The aim of this communication is to clarify the interaction between the e-commerce directive and existing financial services legislation in order to facilitate the freedom to provide services while strengthening consumer confidence
Commission Communication of 7 February 2001 to the Council and the European Parliament on e-commerce and financial services [COM(2001) 66 - Not published in the Official Journal].
The e-commerce Directive is a horizontal framework directive that applies to all information society services ("on-line" services) and therefore also to financial services provided on-line. Financial services provided off-line will be subject to a different legal regime. The communication explains that the e-commerce Directive complements sector-specific financial services legislation (information requirements for customers in the field of consumer credit, insurance and distance marketing). For example, the "internal market clause" applies to financial services by enabling providers to supply services throughout the Union on the basis of the legislation prevailing in the Member State in which they are established (i.e. country of origin). The e-commerce Directive also complements the electronic signatures Directive in that it obliges Member States to ensure that their legal system allows contracts to be concluded by electronic means. Financial service providers are unable to comply with fifteen different sets of rules and regulations if they really wish to offer cross-border on-line services. It is also necessary to reassure consumers who are still reluctant to use this type of service. In order to attain this objective, cooperation between the Member States must also be strengthened.
The "internal market clause" of the e-commerce Directive does not apply to the taking up and carrying out of insurance business, the advertising of UCITS and the issue of electronic money by institutions which do not benefit from a European passport. There is also a derogation for contractual obligations in consumer contracts. The Directive also preserves the freedom of the parties to choose the law applicable to their contract.
The Directive should be transposed by 17 January 2002. This will require further harmonisation of conduct-of-business rules for investment services and pre-contractual information requirements covered by the proposed Directive on the distance marketing of financial services.
The communication defines three policy areas:
Commission Communication to the Council, the European Parliament and the European Central Bank of 14 May 2003 on the application to financial services of Article 3(4) to (6) of the Electronic Commerce Directive [COM(2003) 259 - Not published in the Official Journal]
This communication is designed to ensure that the mechanisms set out in Article 3(4) to (6) of the Electronic Commerce Directive and allowing Member States to apply on a case-by-case basis general-interest restrictions on an information society service provided in another Member State are correctly and strictly applied. It provides assistance to Member States wishing to avail themselves of those mechanisms although it is not an interpretative document. The analysis it contains is based on the Court of Justice's case law. It does not attempt systematically to cover all the aspects of the Article in question, addressing only those where the Commission has noted that there is a need for some explanation and assistance.
Last updated: 10.08.2006