At the end of 2015, the European Commission published two directive proposals. These proposals see to the supply of digital content (COM (2015) 634) and the online and other distance sales of goods to consumers (COM (2015) 635). With these directives the Commission intends to further harmonize the national legislation of member states on these two topics.
The aim is to boost consumer confidence in respect of cross border sales of digital content and other goods and to reduce business’ costs that result from having to adapt to different sets of national rules for such cross border sales.
For the Netherlands, as for many other member states, this leads to an extension of consumer protection as to contracts on digital content (such as apps, music and movies) and online sales. Amongst other things, the proposal for the digital content directive contains various rules for cases of non-conformity and provides further detail on what is considered non-conformity in respect of digital content. This proposal also contains special termination rights for long term digital content contracts, e.g. the statutory right for the consumer to terminate such contracts for convenience after a period of 12 months. The proposal for the online and other distance sales of goods sets the minimum warranty period (the statutory warranty) on two years. For the Netherlands, this means that the current flexible statutory warranty period (which is subject to the expected lifetime of the product) will become a fixed period. As a result, consumers might face a shortening of their statutory warranty period for product with a longer expected lifetime.
These directive proposals form part of the ‘Digital Single Market Strategy’, which the Commission published in the spring of 2015. With the ‘Digital Single Market Strategy’, the Commission aims to strengthen the Europe’s Digital Single Market.