Research Handbooks in European Law series
Edited by Andrej Savin and Jan Trzaskowski
Chapter 14: The concept of European regulation of B2C Internet sales
The Internet sale represents the nearly complete Europeanization of a field of contract law in which the key questions of contract making (offer and acceptance) remain based on national private law, whereas ‘everything that is practically relevant to the consumer’ is regulated by EU law. The dominant consumer image with regard to Internet sales is the market citizen who faces the challenges of globalization and considers them to be a chance to optimize his lifestyle. The Internet purchase contract is the basic form of an economic contractual transaction. The parties are the dominant actors. The state limits itself to interventions in the private autonomy of the businessperson in order to restore the autonomy of the consumer. What is often ignored is that the EU, by encouraging Internet sales, privileges a certain marketing method, which has not only economic but also social and political consequences. Consequently, local economic structures may disintegrate causing social relations to dissolve. From an EU law point of view, the regulation of Internet purchases, as embedded in the Internal Market perspective, is determined by a variety of directives; from a contractual perspective these are namely: Directive 93/13/EC on Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts; Directive 97/7/EC on Distance Selling (now Directive 2011/83/EC on Consumer Rights); Directive 99/44/EC on the Sale of Consumer Goods and Associated Guarantees; the E-Commerce Directive 2000/31/EC; and the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive 2005/29/EC.
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