Shopping on line without borders
Online buyers will have wider cross-border access to products, hotel bookings, car rentals or concert tickets under new rules banning unjustified geo-blocking to be debated on Monday and put to a final vote on Tuesday.
Under the new rules, consumers will be able to choose from which website they wish to buy goods or services without being blocked or automatically re-routed to another website due to their nationality, place of residence or even their temporary location.
Traders will have to treat online shoppers from another EU country in the same way as local customers, i.e. grant them access to the same prices or sales conditions, when they:
- buy goods (e.g. household appliances, electronics, clothes) which are delivered to a member state to which the trader offers delivery in his general conditions, or are collected at a location agreed by both parties in an EU country in which the trader offers such option,
- receive electronically supplied services not protected by copyright, such as cloud services, firewalls, data warehousing, website hosting, or
- buy a service which is supplied in the premises of the trader or in a physical location where the trader operates, e.g. hotel stays, sports events, car rentals, music festivals or leisure park tickets.
Copyrighted content excluded for now
Digital copyrighted content, such as e-books, downloadable music or online games, will not be covered by the new rules for the time being. However, Parliament’s negotiators inserted a “review clause” in the law, which requires the EU Commission to assess within two years whether the ban on geo-blocking should be widened to include such content. Audio-visual and transport services are also excluded from the scope for the time being.
The geo-blocking regulation was provisionally agreed by Parliament and Council negotiators on 20 November 2017. It will be applicable nine months from the day of its publication in the EU Official Journal.
Procedure Code: 2016/0152(COD)
Debate: Monday, 5 February
Vote: Tuesday, 6 February
Procedure: Co-decision (ordinary legislative procedure), first reading agreement
Press conference: Tuesday, 6 February, at 15.00