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The UK government should spearhead efforts to create a single, unified market for online retail across Europe, a leading sector pressure group has said.

The British Retail Consortium's director general, Stephen Robertson, used a speech at the annual Multichannel Retailing conference to call for the country to take a lead in formulating a 'single- e-commerce market', which would campaign for easier access to e-stores across national borders, in a similar way to how the European Union operates with physical trade.

He added that the UK was ideally placed to play a key role in establishing such a market, as it had the highest online spend per head of all European countries.

At present, he added, inconsistencies in issues such as consumer rights and incompatible payment systems were major obstacles to UK-based companies selling overseas online.

He told the conference: "This is a multitude of hurdles which any company wanting to trade in Europe must overcome, not least 27 different sets of consumer rights legislation, tax and legal regimes."

And he added that, while European Union bodies were making some progress towards eliminating these obstacles, "there needs to be a greater sense of urgency".

He added that freeing up online markets across Europe would increase competition, and allow the UK's 'world-leading' e-commerce sector to attract even more customers.

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Steven Cox

Steven Cox spent many years as an offline journalist before joining Lakestar McCann. He has worked as a specialist correspondent for a market-leading transport magazine, a news journalist for major regional newspapers, a commercial features writer with the Manchester Evening News, and a freelance writer and sub-editor. He is now heavily involved in helping Lakestar McCann clients achieve wide coverage through keeping their news feeds updated, as well as in writing and updating on-site copy.

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