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updated 10/8/2008 11:41:35 AM ET 2008-10-08T15:41:35

The European Commission wants to give Internet shoppers more rights and better protection, in an effort to boost Internet shopping across the continent and provide consumers with more competitive prices.

EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva said she has proposed establishing a blacklist of unfair contract terms. She also suggested cooling-off periods to give consumers time to back out of a sales decision.

"We need an EU-wide safety net of rights, so consumers have the security they need to shop around with peace of mind," said Kuneva.

She said European consumers were still shopping too much within their own country even when it was more expensive. Increasing Internet shopping across Europe would allow the best cost-quality companies to stand out, she said.

"With household budgets under strain and purchasing power at the top of citizens' concerns, it has never been more important to consumers to be able to compare prices and shop around," Kuneva said.

Right now, only one in five European online shoppers buys products from outside their home country, accounting for 30 million people in a 27-nation bloc of 495 million consumers.

Yet there are substantial price differences within the EU. Electronic goods are on average 33 percent more expensive in Austria than in neighboring Germany, and clothing is 19 percent more expensive in France than in Italy.

The EU governments and parliament must approve the plan before it can become EU law.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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