European consumers have seen an improvement in purchasing conditions in their countries in 2010. According to the 5th consumer scoreboard', published, on 11 March, by the European Commission, consumers have more confidence in products, stakeholders, conflict resolution mechanisms and regulations than in 2009.

Only in Luxembourg, Portugal and France have the figures gone down by comparison with 2009. "I want to praise all those [EU] member states that have continued to invest in a quality environment for consumers in these tough times. We are turning the corner: the trust of EU consumers in consumer institutions is starting to go back to previous levels," said Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner John Dalli as he presented the scoreboard to the European Consumers' Organisation BEUC.

The top countries with the best conditions are the UK, Ireland, Luxembourg, Austria, Finland, the Netherlands, Italy, Denmark, Germany, Belgium and Sweden, all of which are also above the EU average. The spring scoreboard shows continued growth of domestic e-commerce, with 36% of EU consumers having shopped online from national sellers in 2010 (34% in 2009).

However, cross-border e-commerce continues to grow at a sluggish pace. In 2010, 9% of the population had made online purchases in another member state. This leaves the EU far behind the goal set out in the Digital Agenda, which was published in mid-2010 by the Commission and which sets at 20% the proportion of Europeans who should have made cross-border online purchases by 2015. Romanian, Polish, Czech and Bulgarian consumers are the most reluctant to buy online, which is in contrast with the British.

According to the scoreboard, these poor results can be put down more to the apprehension and reluctance of retailers to trade in another member state than to real obstacles. "The fact that the consumers who make their first remote purchase in another member state...

To continue reading