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Digital contracts: EU rules on digital content and sale of goods enter into application

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On 1 January, new EU rules on digital content and on the sale of goods entered into application. From now on, it will be easier for consumers and businesses to buy and sell digital content, digital services and goods and 'smart goods' across the EU. Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said: “2022 is starting off on a very positive note for EU consumers and businesses. EU consumers will now have the same rights in case of problems or defects with digital content, digital services, or smart products as they have with any other goods, wherever they bought those goods and services from in the EU. Our harmonized rules do not only strengthen consumers' rights, they will also encourage businesses to sell their goods and services across the EU by providing legal certainty. This will help consumers in millions of everyday transactions. I call on those member states that have not yet transposed the new rules to do so without delay.”

With the new rules on digital contracts, consumers will be protected when digital content (e.g. downloaded music or software) and digital services are faulty. They will have a legal right to a solution for example a price reduction or terminate the contract and get a refund. The sale of goods directive will ensure the same level of protection for consumers when shopping online from across the EU or in a store, and cover all goods including goods with digital components (e.g. a smart fridge). The new rules maintain the two years minimum guarantee period from the time the consumer receives the good and provide for a one-year period for the reversed burden of proof in favour of the consumer. In practice, it means that during the first year, it will be up to the seller to prove that the good was not faulty from the start.

The majority of member states have fully transposed both the Directive on digital content and the Directive on the sale of goods. The Commission will closely monitor the transposition for the remaining member states. In fact, several Infringement procedures against member states that have not yet notified their transposition measures are already ongoing. More information can be found on the pages on digital contract rules and in the factsheet.

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