French eBay-enabled Entrepreneurs Advocate for the Digital Single Market

May 31, 2016

Earlier this month, eBay sellers converged on Paris to share their digital and international entrepreneurship experience to those administrations in charge of defining the future of e-commerce policies both in France and in the European Union. As the European Commission released its E-commerce package last 25 May, France’s decision-makers are starting to determine how the country will approach the long-awaited path towards the Digital Single Market. Meeting with eBay-enabled sellers allowed them to learn first-hand the SME vision of the proposed measures, and gave them clues on how to best complement the EU efforts at national level.

First, sellers were glad to share feedback on France’s postal services with both the National Postal Regulation Authority, ARCEP, and the Directorate for Businesses within the Junior Ministry of Foreign Trade. While French postal reliability and efficiency was praised, entrepreneurs called for greater transparency and harmonization, in particular in the area of cross-border parcel delivery and customs procedures. To their satisfaction, sellers were offered to formalize their input in the upcoming ARCEP study on the topic, to be released this summer, as well as during upcoming “International SMEs Forum” organized by the Junior Ministry.

With the support of Tekedra Mawakana, eBay VP of Government Relations, and Céline Saada-Benaben, General Manager of eBay France, they next headed to the Ministry of Economy’s General Directorate for Businesses, where they were able to share more insights on their digital entrepreneurship experience. The need for coherence in government support to digitalization and internationalization emerged from the discussions, with the clear request made by entrepreneurs for a one-stop online portal or contact to address their daily inquiries. Sellers also urged French officials to support the European Commission and National Competition Authority in taking action against online sales restrictions imposed by brands and manufacturers, which often bear a large prejudice upon their business and expansion plans.

As a board member to the French government “Digital Transition” program, eBay also emphasized how the stories of the participating entrepreneurs could be replicated by the thousands of French SMEs who are still sitting on untapped digital growth potential – provided they can expect strong, visible, and convenient support from their public bodies, as well as harmonized and stable EU regulation, in areas such as consumer protection and access to online platforms.

At the Ministry, entrepreneurs also had the opportunity to meet with the Directorate for Fiscal Legislation. A large consensus emerged around the creation of a VAT mini one-stop shop for tangible goods throughout the EU. But SMEs continued to express concerns that they may soon have to apply dozens of different VAT rates, depending on the nature of their product and on their buyer’s place of residence in the EU, exposing them to great legal uncertainty upon engaging in cross-border trade.

While sellers have returned home to take care of their amazing businesses, we want to thank them for their precious time and contributions, which may now continue through their participation to the several recently launched French initiatives on the Digital Single Market.