On 18 March 2016 the publication of the Commission’s e-commerce sector inquiry showed that geo-blocking is widespread in the EU. Geo-blocking prevents consumers from purchasing consumer goods and accessing digital content online in the European Union because of the shopper’s location or country of residence. This is partly due to unilateral decisions by companies not to sell abroad but also contractual barriers set up by companies preventing consumers from shopping online across EU borders.

The inquiry included more than 1400 retailers and digital content providers from all 28 EU Member States. 38% of the responding retailers selling consumer goods and 68% of digital content providers replied that they geo-block consumers located in other EU Member States. The publication of the inquiry on geo-blocking does not prejudge any anticompetitive concerns or the opening of any antitrust cases. The findings will feed the Commission’s ongoing analysis in the sector inquiry to identify possible competition problems and also complement actions launched within the framework of the Commission’s Digital Single Market Strategy in order to address barriers that hinder cross-border e-commerce.