Department for Culture Media and Sport


The purpose of the EU Electronic Commerce Directive is to encourage greater use of e-commerce by breaking down barriers across Europe and boosting consumer trust by clarifying the rights and responsibilities of businesses and consumers.

The objective of the Electronic Commerce Directive is to ensure that online services benefit from principles of free movement of services and freedom of establishment, in particular, the ability to trade throughout the European Community unrestricted, known as the ‘Country of Origin rule’.

It was implemented in the UK as the Electronic Commerce Regulations in 2002.

Businesses that trade online are also subject to the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000, which implemented the EU Distance Selling Directive 1997.

Practical information about e-commerce is available on GOV.UK.

The European Commission adopted a Commission Communication on a coherent framework for building trust in the Digital Single Market for e-commerce and online services (PDF 47kb) on 11 January 2012.

Guidance on the EU e-commerce directive and ‘Brussels I’ regulations can be found in the ‘related information’ sidebar to the right of this page.

European Court of Justice ruling, 12 July 2011

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has given a ruling in the case brought by L’Oréal SA and three of its subsidiaries against eBay International AG, two of its subsidiaries and various individual defendants, in connection with unauthorised online sales of trademarked goods. The ruling in this case will have implications for all of those service providers who offer a facility enabling third party sellers to sell goods on-line. Read more about the ruling