As from Monday buyers will not have to worry about a website blocking or re-routing them just because they, or their credit card, come from a different country. Wherever they are in the EU, they will be able to access goods and services online.
A new regulation proposed by the European Commission in May 2016 to end unjustified “geoblocking” online will enter into force on 3 December. Geoblocking has been preventing consumers from using the internet in one Member State to buy from a website in another Member State.
Frequently traders refused to sell to customers from another EU Member State or to offer equally advantageous prices in comparison with local clients.
“In 2015, a Commission survey found that only 37% of websites actually allowed cross-border customers to reach the final step before completing the purchase by entering payment details,” said Andrus Ansip, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge the Digital Single Market, at a press briefing on Friday.
“As a result, nearly two-thirds of consumers who wanted to shop online abroad were prevented from doing so. On 3rd of December we are putting an end to this practice. We want a Europe without barriers, and this also means removing barriers to online shopping.”
He called on all Member States to ensure an effective implementation of these rules and do all that is in their power so that effective enforcement of the regulation takes place as of Day One. “We have to remind people that they have this right,” he said.
The new rules will enable consumers to have a wider choice of products at competitive prices and consequently better deals. At the same time businesses will see their customer base expand across borders and enjoy lower transaction and administrative costs.
The regulation is also part of a wider EU effort to boost e-commerce in the Single Market, which includes measures to better protect consumers online, ensure more affordable cross-border parcel delivery and simplify VAT rules to make it easier to buy and sell goods online.
New rules on cross-border delivery services have been in place since May 2018, but prices are on average 3 to 5 times higher than domestic delivery prices, without clear reasons for the difference, writes the Commission.