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
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
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.