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Forrester Slams Internet Regulations In Europe

Launching a new report entitled "Braving EU Net Regulation," Forrester Research has criticised the current controls on e-commerce in the EU as "an unclear mix of overlapping, contradictory, and ill-suited laws that stall e-commerce initiatives."

The research firm concludes that there needs to be better co-regulation, with government and business working together to shape rules for e-commerce in Europe over the next 10 years.

Two-thirds of European business leaders questioned by Forrester felt that current regulations were at best ineffective and at worst detrimental to the development of the Internet economy. National laws are proving to be quite inadequate to the task, says Forrester, often exacerbating cross-national differences on issues such as liability, intellectual property, and taxation.

"The EU must move fast to remove the obstacles presented by the current legal patchwork and create a more predictable environment for Internet commerce," said Therese Torris, director of new media analysis at Forrester Research BV (Amsterdam, The Netherlands). "Failing to do so risks reducing the potential of the Internet economy in Europe by as much as a third in 2003."

In a hard-hitting report, Forrester says that governments need to involve businesses in policy formulation, appointing industry associations, independent bodies, and private companies to any Internet regulation projects.

Torris noted the fierce competition coming from across the Atlantic in the globalised world of e-commerce.

"Because U.S. firms have a longer tradition of risk management, self-regulation, and traditional lobbying, they are already trying to exert their influence on EU policies. European governments and businesses need to check this influence by seeking opportunities to practise co-regulation within their domain."

In the short-term, said Forrester, European firms will have to exploit short-term opportunities. They will need to adopt what it calls "the more risk-friendly attitude" which has helped Internet companies in the U.S. kick-start their businesses.