The European Parliament today voted to get rid of one of the major obstacles to the Single Market: unjustified geo-blocking when buying online.
The new rules forbid discrimination on the grounds of nationality, residence or place of establishment by defining the specific situations when there is no justified reason to deny access to a customer. European consumers will gain full access to products and online services from other Member States despite their nationality, residence or IP address.
“Today, we are taking an important step towards an even more competitive and integrated Digital Single Market. It is also another milestone in our fight against the discrimination of consumers based on their nationality or place of residence, which should not be taking place in our united Europe. We have proven that the European Union can deliver concrete results for citizens all over Europe, bringing positive changes to their daily lives”, said the European Parliament’s Rapporteur Róża Thun MEP.
Currently, online traders use different ways to deny access to their websites and online services if you reside in another Member State. This type of discrimination will end, as the new rules will ban blocking access to websites and redirecting the customer to another country-specific website without his or her consent.
This is also good news for the traders who are going to be better protected with clearer rules, including no obligation to deliver goods. In addition, smaller traders will be better protected from passive sales restrictions from suppliers, as they would not be obliged by suppliers to geo-block for business reasons.
The new rules concern buying physical goods online in the European Single Market and do not include copyrighted material such as e-books, e-music, video games or e-films. However, thanks to the EPP Group, they include a review clause that in two years’ time, the European Commission will review the law, considering ending geo-blocking in additional sectors such as the audio-visual or transport sectors.
“This is a significant step towards abolishing geo-blocking”, said Roza Thun, welcoming the vote. “As a consumer, you have the right to profit from the whole Single Market without any discrimination. Ending unjustified geo-blocking is one of the EPP Group’s priorities”, concluded the Rapporteur.
The new rules should enter into force by Christmas 2018 so that EU citizens can freely buy online from the Single Market.