European Parliament bans geo-blocking for e-commerce

The new legislation approved by Parliament requires websites to sell their goods throughout the EU regardless of the country the buyer resides in. It could apply to online cultural content like music streaming and ebooks within two years. EURACTIV.fr reports

The law voted by MEPs in Strasbourg on 6 February was adopted by a large majority  (557 votes for, 89 against). It prohibits geo-blocking restrictions for the purchase of goods and services online.

Therefore, a French customer will be able to shop online  in any other EU country, without any additional fees or without being rerouted or refused based on their country of residence, a common practice nowadays amongst e-merchants

Flaw in the system

The text, however, does not bind e-commerce websites to deliver their products in all EU countries, a problem that could stop the purchase of cross-border goods.

This impediment won’t affect the purchase of services, such as hotel reservations, car rentals, but will affect goods such as clothing or appliances.

Nowadays, e-commerce is rapidly growing in the EU, with online sales rising around 20% per year.” But only 7% of companies offer sales in another member state”, said Andrus Ansip, the Commissioner for the digital single market.

Digital Single Market

Ansip strongly opposes territoriality, which hampers the creation of a digital single market envisaged by the EU. He also mentioned that the end of geo-blocking should further progress in Europe to allow the emergence of services such as a “European Netflix”.

“It’s a first step forward”, he says. “ And in two years time I hope that we can expand the scope of these solutions to online services such as video games, music, and e-books”, he added.

Following lengthy discussions, European lawmakers in the end did not include in the final text cultural property such as music streaming websites, electronic books or online games. Audiovisual content was left out of the scope of application.

 

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Source: Euractive.com

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