Online consumers must be at the center of EU single market rules

Brussels, Today – European Economy ministers have called on the European Commission to propose measures to modernise Europe’s single market to make it fit for purpose in the digital age. The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) welcomes the Competitiveness Council’s conclusions and urges the incoming European Commission and Parliament to ensure Europe’s online consumers are put at the center of EU single market policies.

Making the single market work for online consumers fundamentally requires the European Commission to act when Member States do not correctly apply existing single market rules in the online world. Unfortunately, the current European Commission has failed to fully enforce the freedom to provide services in many online sectors – including online gambling where in 2017 it decided to shelve infringement cases in the sector. This political decision has been to the detriment of the many Europeans who like to place a bet online, who currently do not benefit from equally enforced rules to protect them and their rights online.

In this respect, EGBA welcomes the Council’s recognition today that single market rules need to better ensure a high level of consumer protection when consumers buy services online. EGBA also considers that proposals for targeted regulation are necessary to ensure that current gaps in the digital single market are closed and EU consumers can profit from a truly integrated digital single market.

“The incoming Commission and Parliament have a responsibility to recalibrate the single market to ensure online consumers benefit from the same rights and protections regardless of which member state they live in. But to enable this, the starting point must be for the new Commission to fully enforce existing EU single market rules for all digital services, including online gambling. EGBA companies have more than 12 million active customers and these online customers deserve equal treatment under EU law – but this is currently not the case.” – Maarten Haijer, Secretary General, EGBA.

In its recent manifesto for the new EU term, the EGBA proposed the following measures to strengthen the single market for online gambling:

  • Ensure the implementation of the European Commission’s 2014 Recommendation on consumer protection in online gambling, taking into account digital developments such as in electronic identification, artificial intelligence and Fintech.
  • Reinstate the European Commission’s expert group of national gambling authorities to ensure regular exchanges of best practices, dialogue and regulatory cooperation.
  • Develop and introduce further standardisation of national technical requirements for online gambling, ranging from IT and auditing requirements to anti-money laundering reporting.
  • The European Commission must fully enforce EU law in the online gambling sector.

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