Six ways the EU improved your digital life in 2018 

 
 
The EU has made online shopping a lot easier ©AP Images/European Union-EP 

From ending country redirects to funding free wifi in public spaces, discover what the European Parliament has done in 2018 to improve your online experience.

Travel, shop, watch and call throughout the EU with no barriers and no additional costs. This is what the EU's digital single market is all about and what Parliament is fighting for.


No more automatic country redirects when shopping online


As of 3 December 2018, consumers do not have to put up with geo-blocking anymore. In February 2018, MEPs adopted a regulation to end geo-blocking, obliging retailers to give people access to goods and services on the same terms all over the EU, regardless of where they are connecting from.


Online shoppers no longer have to face such forms of discrimination while country redirects to the local version of the website are banned. Goods and services benefiting from the new rules include household appliances, electronics, clothes, hotel stays, rentals and event tickets.

Better parcel delivery


Opening up the EU online market also makes it necessary to improve consumer protection and the delivery conditions. For more affordable and efficient parcel deliveries to other EU countries, MEPs adopted new rules in March 2018 to make the international parcel delivery market more transparent and competitive and to reduce the barriers consumers and e-retailers encounter when purchasing products online in the EU. This new regulation entered into force in May 2018.

Access to your paid content services across the EU


More than half (53%) of people in the EU watch films and TV series online more than once a week and from April 2018 are able to continue to do so when they are in another EU country. The portability regulation applicable to all EU countries enables consumers to access their portable online content services when they travel in the EU in the same way they access them at home. These rules apply to all providers who offer paid online content services.

Free wifi in public spaces


In order to enjoy digital content users need reliable high-speed connections. WIFI4EU, a funding scheme to promote free wifi connectivity in public spaces across the EU, opened for applications in 2018. The objective of the WIFI4EU European initiative is to provide more than 6,000 communities across the EU with free high-speed wifi connection by 2020. More than 21,700 municipalities have already registered. Successful applicants are announced in December and installation of wifi equipment will follow in 2019.

Upcoming rules on cheaper international calls and 5G


In November, MEPs voted in favour of the telecom package, which aims to cap calls between EU countries at 19 cents per minute and text messages at six cents from 15 May 2019. The rules also aim to boost the investment needed to make 5G connectivity available in European cities by 2020.


Data protection


The General Data Protection Rules (GDPR) is fully applicable since 25 May 2018. The rules give consumers more power over their digital presence, including the right to information about how their data is used, and to delete content they no longer want visible online.