Cross-border eCommerce should be easy for every shopper regardless of location, and now thanks to the EU Parliament’s ruling, it will be.
Yesterday the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission reached a political agreement to end unjustified geoblocking for consumers wishing to buy products or services online within the EU.
These new rules will benefit both consumers and businesses who want to take advantage of the growing European online market.
Vice-President Andrus Ansip, responsible for the Digital Single Market, said:
"Today we put an end to unjustified discrimination when shopping online. This is excellent news for consumers. 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"
Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, in charge of Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said consumers will have the ability to access offers regardless of location in the EU. She said the next order of business was to bring down the cost of cross-border parcel delivery, which is still discouraging people from buying and selling products across the EU.
The removal of the EU geoblock – the practice of preventing certain users from viewing websites – means EU residents will be able to buy products across any EU website, as well as car rental or concert. An EU Commission survey found geoblocking practices were identified in 63% of all websites assessed, and less than 40% of websites allowed cross-border customers to complete a purchase.
This latest measure is part of 24 legislative proposals the European Commission has put forward to complete the Digital Single Market.
The new rules define three specific situations where there should be no reason for different treatment between customers from different EU countries:
- The sale of goods without physical delivery i.e. a Belgian buying a fridge in Germany and organizing the delivery themselves
- The sale of electronic services i.e. Bulgarian buying hosting services from a Spanish company
- The sale of services provided in a specific physical location i.e. an Italian family buying a trip to an amusement park in France
The Regulation does not impose an obligation to sell but it does address discrimination in access to goods and services.
The new rules will come into force 9 months after the publication in the EU Official Journal.
Ending unfair geoblocking is a great step forward for consumers and businesses in the EU. In an ideal world cross-border shopping would be as easy as buying locally, and measures such as this ruling are enabling that to become a reality.