Explanatory Memorandum to COM(2015)634 - Aspects concerning contracts for the supply of digital content - EU monitor

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Explanatory Memorandum to COM(2015)634 - Aspects concerning contracts for the supply of digital content

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The Digital Single Market Strategy 1 adopted by the Commission on 6 May 2015 announced a legislative initiative on harmonised rules for the supply of digital content and online sales of goods. This initiative is composed of (i) a proposal on certain aspects concerning contracts for the supply of digital content, and (ii) a proposal on certain aspects concerning contracts for the online and other distance sales of goods.

As announced by the Commission in its 2015 Work Programme, these two proposals draw on the experience acquired during the negotiations for a Regulation on a Common European Sales Law. In particular, they no longer follow the approach of an optional regime and a comprehensive set of rules. Instead, the proposals contain a targeted and focused set of fully harmonised rules. The proposals also build on a number of amendments adopted by the European Parliament in first reading concerning the proposal for a Regulation on the Common European Sales Law, in particular the restriction of the scope to online and other distance sales of goods and the extension of the scope to certain digital content which is provided against another counter-performance than money.

While this explanatory memorandum covers specifically the proposal on certain aspects of contracts for the supply of digital content, the parts of this explanatory memorandum about the reasons for the proposal, the collection of expertise and the impact assessments concern both proposals as these two proposals are envisaged as a package with common objectives.

1. CONTEXT OF THE PROPOSAL

Reasons for and objectives of the proposal

The general objective of the proposals is to contribute to faster growth of the Digital Single Market, to the benefit of both consumers and businesses. By eliminating the key contract law-related barriers hindering cross-border trade, the rules put forward in the proposals will reduce the uncertainty faced by businesses and consumers due to the complexity of the legal framework and the costs incurred by businesses resulting from differences in contract law between Member States. The initiative will increase consumer trust by providing uniform rules with clear consumer rights.

39 % of businesses selling online but not cross-border quote different national contract laws as one of the main obstacles to cross-border sales. 2 This applies particularly to remedies in case of a faulty product as mentioned by 49% of EU retailers selling online and 67% of those who are currently trying to sell or considering selling online cross-border. 3 Different national contract law rules have created one-off costs for retailers selling to consumers of approximately €4 billion; these costs mostly affect micro and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The purpose of these proposals is to create a business-friendly environment and make it easier for businesses, especially SMEs, to sell cross-border. Businesses should be given legal certainty and avoid unnecessary costs caused by differing national laws when selling goods and digital content outside their domestic market.


Only 18% of consumers who used the Internet for private purposes in 2014 purchased online from another EU country while 55% did so domestically. 4 Consumers suffer detriment due to lack of clear contractual rights for faulty digital content. Digital content covers a wide range of items, such as music, movies, apps, games, films, cloud storage services or broadcasts of sport events. The combined value of the financial detriment resulting from the most recent problem faced by consumers with digital content and the time spent trying to resolve these problems during the last 12 months is estimated at between €9 and 11 billion. Consumers are also not confident when buying online across borders. One of the major reasons is their uncertainty about their key contractual rights. As a result, they miss opportunities and face a narrower range of offers at less competitive prices.

Consistency with existing policy provisions in the policy area

This proposal aims at filling the current legal gap in the consumer acquis at EU level regarding certain contractual aspects for which there are currently no rules.

The proposal supplements Directive 2011/83/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2011 on consumer rights, amending Council Directive 93/13/EEC and Directive 1999/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and repealing Council Directive 85/577/EEC and Directive 97/7/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council 5 , which has already fully harmonised certain rules for the supply of digital content (mainly pre-contractual information requirements and the right of withdrawal). While some Member States like the United Kingdom and the Netherlands have already adopted legislation specifically on digital content, there are currently no specific EU rules to protect consumers against digital content which is not in conformity with the contract. Therefore there is a need to act quickly in order to prevent possible further legal fragmentation due to the emerging different national rules.

In addition, the proposal tackles two contractual rights (modification and termination of long term contracts), which have been identified as problematic 6 and which are currently only subject to the general clause on the unfairness control in Council Directive 93/13/EEC of 5 April 1993 on unfair terms in consumer contracts 7 .

The proposal also supplements Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market 8 , which, among others, partially establishes harmonised rules on electronic contracts.

The proposal is compatible with the existing EU rules on applicable law and jurisdiction in the Digital Single Market 9 . Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters 10 and Regulation (EC) No 593/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 2008 on the law applicable to contractual obligations (Rome I) 11 , which provide rules to determine the competent jurisdiction and applicable law, apply also in the digital environment. These instruments have been adopted quite recently and the implications of the internet were considered closely in the legislative process. Some rules take specific account of internet transactions, in particular those on consumer contracts. These rules aim at protecting consumers inter alia in the Digital Single Market by giving them the benefit of the non-derogable rules of the Member State in which they are habitually resident. Together with the proposed new contract rules for the purchase of digital content as set out in this proposal, the existing rules on private international law establish a clear legal framework for buying and selling in a European digital market, which takes into account both consumers' and businesses' interests. Therefore, this legislative proposal does not require any changes to the current framework of EU private international law, including to the Regulation (EC) No 593/2008 (Rome I).

Consistency with other Union policies

The Digital Single Market Strategy intends to deal with all major obstacles to the development of cross-border e-commerce in the Digital Single Market in a holistic manner. The proposal should be seen in the context of this holistic approach. The Strategy covers among others the initiatives related to the cross-border portability of content, role of platforms, the Free Flow of Data, European Cloud, VAT related burden and parcel delivery. Especially, in the context of the cross-border portability of content and European Cloud, the Strategy envisages decisive actions towards ensuring portability and interoperability of content, which is crucial for the supply of digital content within the EU. The Strategy also covers initiatives related to enforcement/redress, i.e. the entry into operation of the Online Dispute Resolution platform 12 and the review of Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 of 27 October 2004 on cooperation between national authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws (the Regulation on consumer protection cooperation) 13 . In particular, fully harmonised contract law rules in the EU will also facilitate coordinated enforcement actions undertaken by the Consumer Protection Co-operation authorities 14 . The proposal will also be consistent with the general EU framework on copyright and will be without prejudice to any rights and obligations according to copyright law.

Finally, the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data is governed by Directive 1995/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data 15 and Directive 2002/58/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 July 2002 concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector 16 which are fully applicable to supplies of digital content. Those Directives already establish a legal framework in the field of personal data in the Union. The application and implementation of this proposal should be made in full compliance with that legal framework.

2. LEGAL BASIS, SUBSIDIARITY AND PROPORTIONALITY

Legal basis

The legal basis of this proposal is Article 114 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and its main objective is the improvement of the establishment and the functioning of the internal market.

When supplying digital content to consumers in other Member States, businesses are confronted with different mandatory consumer contract law rules. Contracts for the supply of digital content are categorised differently from one Member State to another. Depending on the Member State, these contracts are considered as sales contracts, as services contracts or as rental contracts. In addition, contracts for the supply of digital content are sometimes categorised differently within the same Member State depending on the type of digital content offered. 17 As a consequence, for digital content, national rights and obligations as well as the remedies for consumers vary between Member States. While some of these national rules are non-mandatory and can be modified contractually by the parties, others are of a mandatory character.

Moreover, several Member States have recently enacted or started preparatory work to adopt specific mandatory rules on contracts for the supply of digital content. These national rules differ however in scope and content. It is also to be expected that other Member States will follow this trend. If the EU does not act, businesses will thus increasingly be confronted with different mandatory consumer contract law rules on the supply of digital content.

The existing and upcoming fragmentation creates obstacles for businesses to sell cross-border because they have to incur contract law-related costs. Businesses are also uncertain about their rights and obligations. This has a direct effect on the establishment and functioning of the internal market and negatively affects competition. Given the heterogeneity of the online market for digital content it would be difficult for the market to overcome this fragmentation.

Subsidiarity (for non-exclusive competence)

The proposal complies with the subsidiarity principle as set out in Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union.

The objectives of the proposal cannot be adequately achieved by the Member States.

The general objective of the initiative is to remove consumer contract law barriers in the online world and help to establish a genuine Digital Single Market for the benefit of businesses and consumers. Member States cannot on their own initiative sufficiently be able to remove the barriers that exist between national legislations. An initiative at EU level is able to better achieve this.

More specifically, the initiative aims to provide consumers with specific rights in a coordinated manner and to create legal certainty for businesses which want to sell their digital content in other Member States. When developing specific legislation on the supply of digital content, each Member State individually would not be able to ensure an overall coherence of its national legislation with other Member States legislations. An initiative at EU level would therefore help to ensure the development of specific consumer rights for digital content in a coherent manner.

Action at EU level would be more effective than action at national level.

Furthermore, an initiative at EU level will secure the application of consumer rights in a coherent manner while ensuring that all consumers in the EU benefit from the same high level of consumer protection. It will create legal certainty for businesses which want to sell their digital content in other Member States. Such an initiative will provide a consistent legal basis for coordinated enforcement actions as the proposed Directive will be included in the Annex of Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 18 on cooperation of national authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws. Moreover, enforcement actions would be largely facilitated by the proposed uniform fully harmonised rules. Thus, the enforcement of EU legislation will be strengthened for the benefit of EU consumers. Such a result can only be achieved by an action at the EU level.

Proportionality

The proposal complies with the principle of proportionality as set out in Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union because the proposal will not go beyond what is necessary for the achievement of the objectives.

The proposal will not harmonise all aspects concerning contracts for the supply of digital content; among many other examples, rules on the conclusion of the contract will not be regulated. Instead, it will focus on harmonising at Union level only those targeted, key mandatory consumer EU contractual rights, which are essential in cross-border online transactions, and which have been identified as barriers to trade by stakeholders and are necessary to build consumer trust when buying online abroad. Moreover, the choice of the legal form of a Directive instead of a Regulation will have as a result considerably less interference into national laws (see below under 'Choice of the instrument') as it will leave Member States freedom to adapt the implementation to their national law.

Choice of the instrument

The Commission presents a set of two full harmonisation Directives: a Directive on certain aspects concerning contracts for the supply of digital content and a Directive on certain aspects concerning contracts for the online and other distance sales of goods.

The choice of a Directive leaves Member States freedom to adapt the implementation to their national law. For instance, the proposal does not determine whether the contract for the supply of digital content is to be considered as a sales, services, rental or a sui generis contract; it would leave this decision to Member States. A Regulation would require a much more detailed and comprehensive regime than a Directive in order to allow its effects to be directly applicable. As a consequence, this would have considerably more interference into national laws. It may also jeopardise the future-proof character of the instrument, since, contrary to a Directive, it would have to go to a level of details that would not allow the margin to adapt the implementation of the fully harmonised rules to a technologically and commercially fast-moving market like the one for digital content.

The choice of full harmonisation will lead to simple and modern rules that remove contract law barriers and create a favourable legal framework for businesses while at the same time ensuring that consumers benefit from the same high level of consumer protection throughout the EU.

A non-binding instrument such as a voluntary model contract would not achieve the objective to improve the establishment and functioning of the internal market. Traders would still be obliged to comply with different mandatory national rules of the consumer's country of residence, when the latter provide for a higher level of consumer protection than the model contract, and would thus still face contract law-related costs.

3. RESULTS OF EX-POST EVALUATIONS, STAKEHOLDER CONSULTATIONS AND IMPACT ASSESSMENTS

Stakeholder consultations

1.

Consultation process


An extensive consultation strategy has been developed to ensure a wide participation throughout the policy cycle of this initiative. This strategy was based on a mix of public and targeted consultations. The Commission has sought a wide and balanced range of views on this issue by giving the opportunity to all relevant parties (businesses, consumers, national authorities, lawyers and academics) to express their opinions. 19

- Public Consultation: An open 12 weeks web-based public consultation resulted in 189 responses from all categories of stakeholders from across the EU.

- Targeted consultations: A stakeholder consultation group was composed of 22 organisations representing a wide range of interests. The group met 7 times.

In-depth interviews with businesses were also conducted from June to August 2015 in order to gather data on contract law related costs faced by business when selling abroad.

Within the framework of the Digital Single Market Strategy, two surveys, a consumer survey 20 and a business survey 21 , were used in 2015 to collect data identifying the main cross-border obstacles to the Digital Single Market.

Finally, as part of an economic study on consumer digital content, consumers and businesses were asked about the type of problems they have encountered when purchasing digital content. 22

- Consultation of Member States: three workshops with Member States were organised between June and October 2015. The relevant issues were also discussed with national enforcement authorities at the Consumer Protection Cooperation committee meeting (April 2015) and the national authorities responsible for consumer policy at the Consumer Policy Network meeting (May 2015).

2.

Summary of the results


A majority of general businesses see a need for EU action in the form of full harmonisation; the IT industry and legal professions are more divided. Consumer organisations also recognise the need to act and support full harmonisation provided that a high level of consumer protection is guaranteed. A majority of responding Member States also welcome action on digital content at EU level. Some of them specify they would prefer full harmonisation or targeted full harmonisation. Other Member States would prefer a better enforcement and an assessment of existing rules. A number of them express the need to ensure consistency between rules for goods and digital content.

The vast majority of respondents support an approach including contracts between businesses and consumers only. The vast majority of consumers, Member States and legal professions are in favour of covering digital content supplied not only for a price but also in exchange for (personal and other) data provided by consumers. Businesses are more divided on this issue.

On the substance of the rules, consumers and legal professions argue that users should be able to terminate the contract as a first remedy. Businesses underline that suppliers of digital content should have the choice to bring the goods into conformity before giving the possibility to terminate the contract. For some IT associations, consumers should only have a right to terminate the contract and to receive a reimbursement of the price, but not the right to request that the content is brought into conformity, as this may be too costly for traders. Other IT associations do not consider remedies for non-conformity to be appropriate at all for digital content. Member States are almost unanimous in supporting the inclusion of all remedies already available for goods. The vast majority of respondents agree that traders should be able to modify the features of the supplied digital content under certain conditions (such as the prior information of the consumer) and that consumers should be able to terminate long term contracts.

Collection and use of expertise

Mainly over 2014, an Expert Group on Cloud Computing Contracts met seven times. The Expert Group was established under the European Cloud Computing Strategy and composed of practitioners and organisations representing cloud service providers and customers, as well as representatives of legal professions or academics with expertise in cloud computing contracts and in personal data protection issues relevant to cloud computing contracts.

Cloud computing contracts played a particularly important role in identifying contractual problems relevant for this Directive. These issues, which were extensively discussed by the Group, relate to quality, liability or modification of the contracts. 23

The Commission also relied on several economic and legal studies, which were either commissioned for the specific purpose of this initiative or as a part of the Digital Single Market Strategy. 24

Impact assessment

The Regulatory Scrutiny Board delivered an initial opinion on the draft impact assessment on 16 October 2015 which has been modified taking into account comments from the Board and resubmitted. The second opinion, which approved the draft impact assessment subject to comments, was delivered by the Board on 9 November 2015. 25

The revised impact assessment report and an executive summary are published with the proposals. 26

3.

Policy alternatives examined


In addition to examining the consequences of the absence of policy change, the impact assessment examined the following policy alternatives: (i) option 1: targeted fully harmonised rules for digital content and goods; (ii) option 2: targeted fully harmonised rules for digital content and application of the trader's law combined with the existing harmonised rules on goods; (iii) option 3: targeted fully harmonised rules for digital content and no policy change for goods; (iv) option 4: minimum harmonisation rules for digital content and no policy change for goods; (v) option 5: a voluntary European model contract combined with an EU trust-mark.

On a comparative analysis of the impacts of these options, the Impact Assessment Report arrived at the conclusion that option 1 would best meet the policy objectives. This option will reduce contract law-related costs for traders and facilitate cross-border e-commerce. Businesses will be able to rely largely on their own law when selling cross-border as the main rules, which are relevant for cross-border trade, will be the same in all Member States. While the new rules on digital content may entail certain additional costs for businesses, these costs will be limited compared to the existing situation as the new rights will be fully harmonised. Therefore they will provide businesses with a legally certain and business friendly environment. Consumers will have a clear set of rights throughout the EU and will thus be more confident in buying goods or acquiring access to digital content cross-border. This will create a win-win situation for businesses and consumers. Competition will be increased, leading to an overall increase of trade and consequently an increased and better choice at more competitive prices for consumers, with significant macroeconomic gains for the EU.

Lack of policy change would not contribute to achieving the objectives of the Digital Single Market, and would risk having negative economic impacts relative to the current situation.

Option 2 would have the positive impact of fully harmonised rules for digital content. For goods, it would lead to increased incentives for cross-border supply, since traders would be able to sell their products cross-border entirely on the basis of their own law. Consumers may to some extent benefit from increased choice and lower prices. However, under such an option, consumers would no longer benefit from a higher level of consumer protection that their own national law provide. Vice versa, consumers may benefit from a potentially higher level of consumer protection of the trader's law if that goes beyond their own national law on specific points.

Option 3 would have the positive impact of fully harmonised rules for digital content but contract law-related obstacles to cross-border trade would remain for goods.

Option 4 would create minimum rights for consumers concerning the contracts for the supply of digital content in the EU and therefore increase consumers' trust to a certain extent. Member States would be able to adopt more protective rules. However, this option would not reduce costs for traders, who would still need to comply with different national mandatory consumer contract law rules that provide a higher level of consumer protection when selling in other Member States.

Option 5 could help businesses sell digital content across the EU and provide consumers with a satisfactory level of consumer protection, very much depending on the content of the model contract rules to be agreed upon by the industry and on the degree of usage and acceptance of the trust mark by EU businesses. Consumers may be more confident to buy from foreign traders to whom the EU trust mark has been awarded. However, traders would still be obliged to comply with mandatory national rules of the consumer's country of habitual residence, when they provide for a higher level of consumer protection than the model contract rules, and may thus still face contract law-related costs.

4.

Main impacts of the proposal


The impact assessment considers the impact of both proposals, the Directive on certain aspects concerning contracts for the supply of digital content and the Directive on certain aspects concerning contracts for the online and other distance sales of goods.

The two proposals will eliminate contract law-related barriers to cross-border online trade, both for consumers and traders. Removing these obstacles is an incentive for cross-border trade: if the barriers related to contract law were lifted, 122,000 more businesses would be selling online across borders. Intra-EU exports would increase by around €1 billion. Increased online retail competition will lead to retail prices going down in all Member States, averaging -0.25% at EU level. As a result of this price decrease and increased consumer trust stemming from uniform EU rights, there will be additional consumer demand. Household consumption, which mirrors consumers' welfare, would rise in every Member State with an EU average of +0.23%, which corresponds to about 18 billion. Between 7.8 and 13 million additional consumers would start buying online cross-border. The average amount spent annually by each cross-border buyer would also increase by €40. This increase in supply and demand will have direct effects on the main macroeconomic variables in each Member State and in the EU as a whole. Overall real EU GDP is expected to gain about €4 billion per year.

5.

Who would be affected and how


Businesses will face costs to comply with the new Directive but eventually benefit even more from fully harmonised rules to export goods and digital content throughout the EU. SMEs will not be exempted from the new legislation: exemptions would decrease consumers' trust when purchasing from them. There is no justification for giving consumers less protection when they buy from SMEs instead of bigger suppliers. An exemption would also undermine the benefits for SMEs of having one single set of rules applying throughout the EU. On the contrary, the initiative will be particularly beneficial to SMEs, which are more affected by the costs to adapt their contract to mandatory rules of other Member States and are more often confined to their home market than their bigger competitors. Cross-border trade is an important way for them to benefit from the advantages of economies of scale. SMEs face a problem in finding customers. This would be easier to cope with in the online context, since the internet enables online sales at reduced costs compared to offline trade.

Fundamental rights

The proposal for the supply of digital content will impact positively a number of rights protected under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, in particular Article 38 on consumer protection and Article 16 on the freedom to conduct a business.

A targeted set of fully harmonised rules for digital content will meet the objective of Article 38 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights by enhancing consumer protection throughout the EU, since it will provide EU consumers with clear and specific rights when they buy/ acquire access to digital content domestically or from other Member States.

A set of fully harmonised rules for key aspects of the supply of the digital content will also contribute to achieving the objective of Article 16 because businesses will be facilitated to sell digital content in the EU, both domestically and cross-border. Their ability to expand their business will therefore be reinforced.

Finally, clear contract law rights will help fulfilling the objective of Article 47 (Right to an effective remedy) because it will increase the ability to exercise one's right to an effective remedy before the courts. The new rules should clarify the remedies available in case of disputes.

4. BUDGETARY IMPLICATIONS

The proposal will not have any budgetary implications.

5. OTHER ELEMENTS

Implementation plans and monitoring, evaluation and reporting arrangements

Member States will be required to send to the Commission the measures implementing the Directive on certain aspects concerning contracts for the supply of digital content. These measures will set out the text of the adopted legislation by the Member States. The Commission will monitor these measures to ensure that they comply with the Directive.

The Commission will launch a monitoring and evaluation exercise to assess how effectively the Directive is achieving the objectives. The results of the evaluation will feed into a review process, to be carried out 5 years after the entry into force of the Directive, which will examine the effectiveness of the Directive.

Explanatory documents

In accordance with the Joint Political Declaration of 28 September 2011 of Member States and the Commission on explanatory documents, Member States have undertaken to accompany, in justified cases, the notification of their transposition measures with one or more documents explaining the relationship between the components of a directive and the corresponding parts of national transposition instruments. With regard to this Directive, it is considered that the transmission of such documents is justified.

Detailed explanation of the specific provisions of the proposal

The proposal consists of 20 articles.

Article 1 sets the subject matter of the Directive, which is to fully harmonise a set of key rules concerning contracts for the supply of digital content. It clarifies that the Directive includes rules on conformity of the digital content, remedies available to consumers in cases of lack of conformity of digital content with the contract, as well as certain aspects concerning the right to terminate a long term contract and the modification of the digital content.

Article 2 contains a list of definitions for terms used in the Directive. Some definitions stem from the current acquis, such as the definition of a consumer or from the proposal for a Regulation on a Common European Sales Law. Other definitions reflect the specificity of digital content and reflect the rapid technological and commercial evolution. For example, the definition of digital content is deliberately broad and encompasses all types of digital content, including for example, downloaded or web streamed movies, cloud storage, social media or visual modelling files for 3D printing, in order to be future-proof and to avoid distortions of competition and to create a level playing field.

Article 3 sets, based on the subject matter, the personal and material scope of the Directive. The Directive covers only business-to-consumer transactions. Contract law related problems in B2B relations, especially in relation to specific needs of SMEs, has been recognised in the Digital Single Market Strategy and will be analysed in the context of other actions announced in the Strategy. The Directive covers the supply of all types of digital content. It also covers digital content supplied not only for a monetary payment but also in exchange for (personal and other) data provided by consumers, except where the data have been collected for the sole purpose of meeting legal requirements. The Directive does not cover services performed with a significant element of human intervention or contracts governing specific sectorial services such as healthcare, gambling or financial services. Article 3 also clarifies that in case of conflict between the Directive and another EU act, the other EU act takes precedence. In particular, it clarifies that the Directive is without prejudice to the rules on data protection. Finally, it clarifies that the Directive does not affect national laws to the extent that they are not regulated in this Directive, such as national rules providing for obligations of the consumer towards the supplier of digital content or regulating the qualification, formation or validity of contracts.

Article 4 establishes that the present Directive is a full harmonisation Directive. It precludes Member States, within its scope of application, from adopting or maintaining laws remaining below or going beyond the requirements of the Directive. The effect of Article 4 combined with Article 1 is also to determine that in the other areas not included in the scope of application of this Directive, Member States are free to provide national solutions.

Article 5 clarifies the modalities and time of supply of digital content. The digital content must be supplied to the consumer or to a third party which operates a physical or virtual facility allowing processing of, access to or transmission of digital content to the final consumer and with which the consumer is in a contractual relation. As a default rule, the digital content should be supplied instantly unless the parties agree otherwise.

Article 6 contains a mixture of contractual and statutory conformity criteria against which the quality of the digital content is assessed. The digital content must primarily conform to what was promised in the contract. In the absence of such explicit benchmarks, the conformity of the digital content must be assessed according to an objective criterion, i.e. it must be fit for the purpose for which digital content of the same description would normally be used. Article 6 also clarifies that when the digital content is supplied over a period of time, the digital content must be in conformity with the contract throughout the duration of the contract and that the version of digital content supplied to the consumer shall also be the most recent version available at the time of the conclusion of contract.

Article 7 explains that a lack of conformity of the digital content resulting from an incorrect integration into the consumer's hardware and software should be equal to a lack of conformity of the digital content itself if the reasons for the incorrect integration are in the sphere of the supplier.

Article 8 contains an additional conformity requirement according to which the digital content must be cleared from any third-party rights, including those based on intellectual property.

Article 9 imposes the burden of proof for the absence of lack of conformity on the supplier, unless the consumer's digital environment is not compatible with the digital content. This reversal of the burden of proof is not limited in time as digital content is not subject to wear and tear. Article 9 specifies that the consumer shall cooperate with the supplier in order to allow the supplier to ascertain the consumer's digital environment. The obligation to cooperate shall be limited to the least intrusive means technically available to the supplier.

Article 10 states the cases of liability of the supplier towards the consumer, namely where the digital content is not in conformity with the contract or the supplier failed to supply the digital content altogether. Given that digital content may be supplied over a period of time, the supplier should also be liable for any lack of conformity which occurs during that period.

Article 11 gives the right to the consumer to terminate the contract immediately when the supplier failed to supply the digital content altogether as set out in Article 5.

Article 12 lists the remedies available to the consumer in case of any failure to supply or lack of conformity of the digital content. In a first step, the consumer shall be entitled to have the digital content brought to conformity within a reasonable time, without significant inconvenience and without incurring any costs. In a second step, the consumer shall be entitled to have the price reduced or the contract terminated if the lack of conformity relates to main performance features.

Article 13 details the consequences of termination of the contract for lack of conformity of the digital content. For example, it provides that the supplier shall reimburse the price or if the counter-performance consisted of data refrain from using these data and any other information which the consumer has provided in exchange for the digital content. It also clarifies that the consumer shall also refrain from using further the digital content after termination.

Article 14 establishes a right to damages restricted to cases where damage has been done to the digital content and hardware of the consumer. However, it provides that Member States should lay down the detailed conditions for the exercise of the right to damages.

Article 15 lists the conditions, such as prior agreement and prior information of the consumer or the right for the consumer to terminate the contract, under which the supplier can modify the contract for the supply of digital content as regards main performance features.

Article 16 establishes the conditions under which the consumer has a right to terminate contracts concluded for an indeterminate duration or for duration exceeding 12 months and thereby is able to switch provider. For example, the consumer shall notify the supplier 14 days before the termination becomes effective. Article 16 also details the consequences of termination of the long term contract. It also provides that the supplier shall refrain from using data and any other information which the consumer has provided in exchange for the digital content.

Article 17 provides the supplier with a right to redress in case of an act or omission by a person in earlier links of the chain of transactions which triggered the supplier's liability for lack of conformity or a failure to supply towards the consumer. The modalities for exercising this right are to be regulated by the national laws of Member States.

Article 18 obliges Member States to ensure that adequate and effective means exist to ensure compliance with this Directive.

Article 19 contains the clause about the mandatory nature of consumer contract law rules, i.e. it states that any derogation from the requirements contained in the Directive to the detriment of the consumer is not binding on the consumer.

Article 20 provides for amendments to other EU legislation. It amends Directive 1999/44/EC in order to avoid overlaps between the two instruments. Article 20 also adds a reference to this Directive in the Annex of Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 so as to facilitate cross-border cooperation on enforcement of this Directive. It also adds a reference to this Directive in Annex I of Directive 2009/22/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council 27 so as to ensure that the consumers’ collective interests laid down in this Directive are protected.

Article 21 establishes the deadline for transposition by Member States.

Article 22 establishes an obligation for the Commission to review the application of this Directive no later than 5 years after its entering into force.

Article 23 sets the date of entry into force of the Directive.

Article 24 specifies the addressees of the Directive.