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Online sales and geo-blocking: opening up the EU online market step by step

Bird & Bird LLP


The European Commission’s e-commerce sector inquiry revealed that geo-blocking and other practices restricting cross-border sales within the European Union are widespread. These practices run counter to the objective of the EU Digital Single Market and led the commission to adopt the Geo-blocking Regulation, which prohibits suppliers from denying access to their website to purchasers located in another EU member state, re-routing them to the website of their local subsidiaries and applying discriminatory terms and conditions based on the nationality or location of the purchaser.

This new legislation, which came into force on 3 December 2018, complements the existing EU competition rules which already prohibited suppliers from restricting the ability of their suppliers to resell online everywhere in the European Economic Area, as this was recalled by the commission in the Guess decision of 17 December 2018.

Why sign up?

Our experts will consider the practical implications of the Geo-blocking Regulation for traders selling online within the European Union. In particular, it will cover the following:

  • Which transactions, goods and services are caught by the regulation?  
  • What is the impact of this regulation on price differentiation strategies and exclusivity arrangements?
  • What is the impact of this regulation on delivery obligations and logistics?
  • What practical steps must be taken to ensure compliance?
  • How does this regulation interact with the existing EU competition rules?
  • How will the new geo-blocking rules apply in the United Kingdom after Brexit?


Roelien van Neck
Partner, The Hague

Roelien van Neck heads Bird & Bird's commercial group in the Netherlands and is based in The Hague.

She focuses on commercial matters in IT and other technology-based industries. She is a specialist in digital business and technology-related contracts. She has specific expertise in online business-to-consumer matters and advises clients on all aspects of trading practices, marketing and advertising.

She also advises on commercial contracts covering distribution, sales, agency, cooperation and procurement arrangements, acting for suppliers and customers. In addition, she represents clients in legal proceedings in her specialty areas. She is a member of Bird & Bird's tech and communications group.

Thomas Oster
Partner, Paris

Thomas Oster is a partner in the firm’s competition and EU practice, based in Paris. His practice covers both contentious and non-contentious national and European competition law, together with commercial and distribution law.

He has substantial experience advising on cartel investigations. He helps to develop and implement competition compliance programmes and assists in notifications of transactions to the European Commission and the French Competition Authority.

He regularly advises clients on the structuring of selective, exclusive and franchise distribution networks across Europe, as well as on e-commerce strategy.

Ariane Le Strat
Associate, London

Ariane Le Strat is an associate in the firm’s competition and EU law team, based in London. She was named as a recommended associate in Legal 500 UK 2019 for the second year running.

She has worked with a varied portfolio of household retailers, advising on distribution and licensing queries including retail price maintenance, online sales and territorial, Google Adwords and marketplace restrictions, as well as geo-blocking.

She is a regular speaker at client events, including most recently on the interaction of Big Data and competition law in the context of artificial intelligence at Bird & Bird's annual Tech Law Day. She also co-authored widely read articles published on the firm website under the series "E-commerce under scrutiny". Before joining Bird & Bird, she worked for the enforcement arm of the Competition and Markets Authority.


Roelien van Neck
Thomas Oster
Ariane Le Strat


17 April 2019
14:00 - 14:55 UTC
55 min