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Small business bosses bid to stop rules on e-commerce

Date 12 Oct 2007
Author The Editor

Business bosses in the region are urging MEPs to carry out a review over proposals that could cost e-commerce businesses more than £250,000. North East business owners this week travelled to Brussels to meet European counterparts to talk about the issue. They are concerned that the European Commission's 'Rome I' proposals would mean some firms would be forced to ditch their online business.

Article 5 of the Rome I rules mean businesses would have to adhere to laws in whichever country the consumer lives, rather than those in which the firm is based. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) claims that it would cost each business Є15,000 per member state in legal fees to comply with the regulations.

North East Policy Chairman, Bill Keenlyside, from Tyneside, said: "There are 27 member states, so at Є15,000 per member state, it would cost in excess of £250,000 for firms to comply. This type of cost would price some small firms out of business. With members of other northern FSB regions, we held a meeting with the European Small Business Alliance to understand the full impact and to see how we can work together to push MEPs to leave the trading rules as they are.

"We recognise consumers need protection, but for a small firm to employ lawyers who understand some complex laws in 27 different member states would mean some small and medium business owners would have to think again about e-commerce, which is a massive business."

Mr Keenlyside added that it would be unfair on businesses based in the EU, as those outside of it would not have to adhere to such laws.

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