European agreement on geo-blocking prohibition

Negotiators in the European Parliament, the European Council and the European Commission succeeded in reaching agreement on Monday evening.

This concerned the prohibition on geo-blocking for the online trading of goods and services. Companies will no longer be able to prevent customers from visiting their website or making purchases, simply because they are resident in another member state. The new regulations are due to come into force at the end of 2018.

The European Commission says the new rules will “provide a boost to online trade in the interests of consumers and businesses.” The Commission explains, “For EU citizens this means that they will be able to buy electronic gadgets online, rent a car or buy a concert ticket when abroad, just as if they were at home. For companies, this means greater legal security and the possibility of operating across borders.”

The MEP, Anneleen Van Bossuyt (New Flemish Alliance), who participated in the negotiations, spoke of this being a “decisive moment for the European internal market” and of a “win-win situation” for consumers and companies . “Thanks to this agreement, the consumers will enjoy a broader online offer with cheaper options. Companies will take advantage of a broader customer base, and will not have to be au fait with the relevant legislation in all member states.

The new rules do not force businesses to guarantee the same price everywhere. This measure was found in previous versions of the prohibition. Audiovisual materials, such as television series and other productions [examples being films or theatre-based productions], do not fall within this legislation. E-books, music and online games are also exempt.

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