European Parliament reaches provisional agreement with Council and Commission that would end geo-blocking for physical goods
“This means the end of discrimination of consumers buying physical goods online in the European Single Market. European consumers will no longer be deprived of access to physical goods or services based on their nationality, residence or IP address”, said the European Parliament’s lead negotiator, Roza Thun MEP who defends the consumer’s right to profit from the whole Single Market.
With the new agreement, there will be no more technical barriers to access traders’ websites and applications nor will consumers be refused a sale because of a credit card. In addition, the consumer cannot be redirected to another country-specific website without his or her consent.
It means that consumers will now benefit from better prices for goods all over Europe. A Commission survey from 2015 showed that geo-blocking was highest when consumers tried to buy physical goods, in particular household appliances and electronics.
But consumers will also benefit from better deals for hotel bookings or car rentals on websites in other countries, which may have previously re-directed them to their local version.
On the other hand, the new regulations will also give better protection to traders who will benefit from clearer rules and will not have to be afraid of selling to consumers from abroad. Small traders will also be protected from passive sales restrictions from suppliers; they won’t be obliged by suppliers to geo-block for business reasons.
Roza Thun MEP welcomed this agreement as a first step in fighting online geo-blocking. “The EPP Group has pushed the European Commission to review the law in 2 years, considering ending geo-blocking in additional sectors such as the audio-visual or transport services.”