European Commission officials are to consult industry and consumer groups as it tries to draw up legislation (nicknamed Rome II) governing cross-border e-commerce.

The decision by justice and home affairs specialists marks a remarkable volte-face, after denouncing such a move as a waste of taxpayers money only two months ago.

At stake in the Rome II negotiations is the thorny issue of which national law should apply in transnational disputes – that of the country of origin (where the e-tailer is based) or the country of destination (location of the individual consumer).

Up to now, EC officials have strongly favored applying the laws of the country of destination, prompting complaints from e-tailers that their businesses will be overwhelmed by legal concerns.

However, that position appears to be wavering: “We are not sure whether to set up a special regime for e-commerce or to remove the country of destination principle altogether. This has yet to be clarified,” said David Seite, one of the officials drafting the legislation. “We have been given clear instructions from [commissioner for justice and home affairs Antonio] Vittorino that Rome II should not prejudice e-commerce.”

News source: AdAge Global