As of 3 December, Europeans will be able to shop online without unjustified geo-blocking, wherever they are in the EU.
Consumers will have wider and easier cross-border access to products, hotel bookings, car rentals, music festivals or leisure park tickets in the EU, under new rules addressing unjustified geo-blocking. The legislation approved by the European Parliament in February 2018 starts applying on Monday, 3 December.
Róża Thun (EPP, PL), who steered this legislation through Parliament, said: “This is another step forward in creating a true single market where all consumers are treated equally. When buying products abroad, all of us will now have the right to be treated like local consumers.
We can no longer be denied access to the sale of goods and provision of some services. Sometimes we might need to arrange for a parcel to be delivered with another delivery service provider, because the seller is not delivering the product to our country. However, the seller can no longer say to us: “I’m not selling this product to you because of your nationality, place of residence or location”.
Europe needs concrete solutions for all of its citizens. We need a European single market with no borders and no barriers. The European Parliament negotiated hard with Member States for this deal to apply already from the beginning of December, so that Europeans can benefit from a larger choice when doing their Christmas shopping.
After roaming, after portability, I am really proud that, in cooperation with the European Commission, we managed to find a solution to the problem of geo-blocking. This will serve millions of citizens”.
63% of websites do not let shoppers buy from another EU country, according to the findings of a “mystery shopping” study carried out by the Commission. For tangible goods, geo-blocking was highest for electrical household appliances (86%), while for services, online reservations of offline leisure sector, such as sports event tickets (40%), were subject to the most geo-blocking.
EU consumers show growing demand for cross-border online shopping. In the last ten years, the share of Europeans buying online has almost doubled.
Presented as part of the Digital Single Market, the regulation to end unjustified geo-blocking was included in the e-commerce package, together with legislation on cross-border parcel delivery services, approved in Parliament in March and applicable since 22 May 2018, and a law to strengthen enforcement of consumers’ rights, approved in November 2017 and which will apply from 17 January 2020.
The regulation on addressing unjustified geo-blocking and other forms of discrimination based on customers’ nationality, place of residence or place of establishment within the internal market defines three specific situations when there can be no justified reasons for geo-blocking or other discriminations based on nationality, residence or location:
- The sale of goods without physical delivery. Example: A Belgian customer wishes to buy a refrigerator and finds the best deal on a German website. The customer will be entitled to order the product and collect it at the trader’s premises or organise delivery himself to his home.
- The sale of electronically supplied services. Example: A Bulgarian consumer wishes to buy hosting services for her website from a Spanish company. She will now have access to the service, can register and buy this service without having to pay additional fees compared to a Spanish consumer.
- The sale of services provided in a specific physical location. Example: An Italian family visits a French theme park and wishes to take advantage of a family discount on the price of the entry tickets. The discounted price will be available for the Italian family.