End of geo blocking in Europe

Tuesday, 11 December | 2018

The European Union has ended the geo blocking on December 6 - blocking customers based on their geographic location.

This regulation prohibits vendor practices such as blocking customers from other countries or automatically redirecting to sites in their language without their consent. The product prices have often been higher on these sites.

"In 2015, as many as 63% of online stores did not allow their customers to buy from another EU country, so almost two thirds of consumers were not allowed to shop in another country" - said Andrus Ansip of the European Commission for the Single Digital Market. "We want a barrier-free Europe that includes, among other things, removing barriers to online business."

According to the Irish Examiner, geo-blocking was the highest in the case of electrical household appliances (86%), while in the case of services in this unflattering ranking, booking of leisure activities it was (40%).

The European Commission said in the media report that the new rules guarantee greater legal certainty for businesses and encourage them to expand business to foreign markets.

However, this regulation does not oblige traders to deliver goods throughout Europe and does not harmonize prices as originally expected. Neither do online stores offer the same services or uniform prices for different EU regions, as was pointed out by the Electronic Commerce Association (APEK).

Stores will also not be able to apply different general terms based on the nationality or residence of the customer who wants to purchase in the store. However, according to the association, this does not mean that online stores have to deliver goods anywhere within the Union, or that they could not offer different goods or services for different countries in local versions.

In practice, this means that the customer will be able to order goods in a store in any state of the European Union, while the trader may not refuse him or redirect him without his consent. However, if the store sends goods only within that particular state, it is not obliged to deliver the goods to the customer. The solution to the transport of goods is therefore up to the customer.

The new policy includes the payment method guidelines, the merchant may no longer refuse to complete the order or accept payment only because the credit card comes from abroad. This is true when purchasing goods, receiving electronic services that are not copyrighted, or purchasing services.

The European Parliament has pointed out that digital copyrighted content (such as e-books, download music or online games) has so far been excluded from this regulation.

However, within two years of the entry into force of the regulation, the European Commission must assess whether the ban on geo-blocking should be extended to audiovisual and transport services.