Digital Single Market: unjustified geoblocking to end by the end of 2018

On November 20, 2017, the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission committed to end all geoblocking that unnecessarily impedes consumers to buy products or services online within the EU.

The EU digital single market should “give consumers the same possibility to access the widest range of offers regardless of whether they physically enter a shop in another country or whether they shop online.”

No justification for different treatments among customers from different EU Member States exists at least in the following three instances:

  • 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 organize delivery himself to his home.
  • 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.
  • sale of services provided in a specific physical location. Example: An Italian family can buy a trip directly to an amusement park in France without being redirected to an Italian website.

The future regulation will not impose an obligation to harmonize prices. It will however address unjustified discriminations to access goods and services (e.g. by VAT obligations or different legal requirements).

According to the press release, the “next stop[ is] bringing down prices of cross-border parcel delivery, which still discourage people from buying and selling products across the EU.”

The new rules will come into force nine months after the publication in the EU Official Journal.

The European Commission press release is available here.

For more information on the European single digital market , Francesca Giannoni-Crystal and Federica Romanelli.

 

 

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