Digital Single Market: EU negotiators agreed to end unjustified geoblocking
The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission reached a political agreement to end unjustified geoblocking for consumers wishing to buy products or services online within the EU. The new rules will boost ecommerce for the benefit of consumers and businesses who take advantage of the growing European online market.
For citizens this means they will be able to buy their new electrical goods online, rent a car or get their concert tickets across borders as they do at home. It will ensure that they no longer face barriers such as being asked to pay with a debit or credit card issued in another country. For businesses, this means more legal certainty to operate cross-border.
The new rules define three specific situations where no justification and no objective criteria for a different treatment between customers from different EU Member States are conceivable from the outset. These are:
· 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 can buy a trip directly to an amusement park in France without being redirected to an Italian website.
The Regulation does not impose an obligation to sell and does not harmonise prices. It does however address discrimination in access to goods and services in cases where it cannot be objectively justified (e.g. by VAT obligations or different legal requirements).
The new rules will come directly into force after nine months from the publication in the EU Official Journal, to allow in particular small traders to adapt.