The European Commission on Tuesday published a guide to consumers rights online as it gave a list of actions it is considering taking to help the public use the Internet.
Cross-border shopping is seen as a way of spurring more competition among retailers and helping to bring down prices for consumers.
Giving consumers clear information about their rights will increase trust and help unlock the full economic potential of Europe's single online market, worth 106 billion euros in revenues, EU telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding said.
A poll for the Commission found that only 12 percent of EU web users felt safe making transactions on the Internet, while 39 percent had major doubts about safety and 42 percent simply would not carry out financial transactions online.
Around 33 percent of consumers would consider buying online from another country if the product was cheaper or better, but only seven percent actually do so, the poll showed.
The Commission's eYouGuide (http://ec.europa.eu/eyouguide) spells out consumer rights on such issues as dealing with a broadband provider, shopping on the web and downloading music, and how to protect personal data online and on social networking sites.
In the EU, consumer rights online should not depend on where a company or website is based, Reding said. National borders should no longer complicate European consumers' lives when they go online to buy a book or download a song.
Reding along with the EU Consumer Affairs Commissioner Meglena Kuneva also gave a long list of actions the EU was considering taking to help consumers:
-- Combating spam with civil and criminal sanctions; a ban on spam has been part of EU law since 2003, but 65 percent of Europeans still complain about excessive spam
-- Introducing multi-territorial licensing regimes for online content to make it easier for consumers to understand the licensing of digital content, such as music and games.
-- Ending the current fragmentation of laws on private copying so consumers will have clear information about what they can and cannot do with the copyrighted songs, videos and films they download
-- Extending consumer protection rules to cover licensing agreements of products like software downloaded for virus protection and games
-- Ensuring that privacy policies with online offers are properly disclosed and have fair contract terms
-- Making it easier for disabled people to use websites
-- Making it possible for customers to cancel payments to non-compliant traders as a last resort
(Reporting by Huw Jones, editing by Karen Foster)