The European Union will make an end to unjustified geoblocking for consumers who want to buy products or services online within the EU. According to the union, these new rules will boost ecommerce for the benefit of consumers and businesses.
Yesterday, the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission reached an agreement to end geoblocking. This means consumers in the European Union can now buy products online, rent a car or get their concert tickets across borders, just like they do at home. For example, consumers will no longer be asked to pay with a debit or credit card issued in another country.
Choosing from which website you wish to buy
Vice-President Andrus Ansip, who is responsible for the Digital Single Market, sees the geoblocking ban as putting an end to unjustified discrimination when shopping online. “It’s excellent news for customers. With the new rules, Europeans will be able to choose from which website they wish to buy, without being blocked or re-routed. This will be a reality by Christmas next year.”
The geoblocking ban can be seen as an upgrade of the Digital Single Market to the digital world. Consumers can now access products or services with the same possibilities, regardless of whether they physically enter a store in another country or whether they shop online. “Next stop: bringing down prices of cross-border parcel delivery”, says commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska. “This still discourages people from buying and selling products across the EU.”
Consumers may be happy with this news, for online retailers the new rules could be extra challenging for their business, as they now might have to deal with more foreign customers. With the new rules, an Italian family can buy a trip directly to an amusement park in France without being redirected to an Italian website.
‘No obligation to sell’
However, retailers don’t have an obligation to sell and the regulation doesn’t harmonize prices. It only wants to address discrimination in access to goods and services in cases where it can’t be objectively justified, for example, by VAT obligations or different legal requirements.