Stop “Geo-Blocking”! – Boosting E-Commerce High on EU Agenda

Written by | Friday, May 27th, 2016

One of the EU’s latest legislative proposals is part of the Brussels’ efforts to boost e-commerce. The proposal aims to forbid retailers from refusing to send goods and services to people living in other EU countries. The so-called “geo-blocking” should be outlawed and cross-border shipping and parcel delivery will be made affordable and efficient, which will be coupled with better protection of consumer rights and enforcement.

Commissioner for the Digital Single Market, Andrus Ansip, commented that “All too often people are blocked from accessing the best offers when shopping online or decide not to buy cross-border because the delivery prices are too high or they are worried about how to claim their rights if something goes wrong. We want to solve the problems that are preventing consumers and businesses from fully enjoying the opportunities of buying and selling products and services online.”

The proposal was welcomed by the European Consumer Organization, whose Director-General, Monique Goyens, said that consumers “still face hurdles when they try to take advantage of better offers and deals available from retailers based in other countries. This is wrong and it is right that it is corrected” despite the fact that the single market has greatly benefited EU companies. Mrs Goyens added that she was disappointed that consumers were still blocked from buying digital products, like e-books or music, from sellers based in other EU countries. “TV series, films and sport events will also stay off-limits,” she said and added that “It is time the EU puts the final nail in the coffin of geo-blocking.”

The latest e-commerce package against geo-blocking therefore consists of a proposal to address unjustified geo-blocking and other forms of discrimination on the grounds of nationality, residence or establishment, a proposal on cross-border parcel delivery services to increase the transparency of prices and improve regulatory oversight, and a proposal to strengthen enforcement of consumers’ rights and guidance to clarify, among others, what qualifies as an unfair commercial practice in the digital world. The proposed legislation would ensure that consumers buying services and products in another EU country are not discriminated against.

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