The European Commission (“Commission”) has today published a significant package of measures designed to eliminate barriers to cross-border e-commerce in the European Union (“EU”). These will impact on any companies whose products or services are sold online to consumers in the EU as well as on resellers and companies providing platforms for such sales.
The package includes legislative proposals aimed at:
- outlawing geo-blocking (i.e. blocking consumers accessing online offers available in an EU Member State that is not their home country) and other forms of discrimination on the grounds of nationality, residence or establishment within the EU;
- increasing the transparency of prices and improving regulatory oversight for cross-border parcel delivery services; and
- strengthening the enforcement of consumers’ rights.
While there are some notable carve-outs (e.g. for audiovisual content), the proposed ban on geo-blocking is particularly significant. This practice has long been a thorny issue for the Commission as it tends to fragment the EU’s Single Market by preventing consumers from buying products or services in an EU Member States that is not their home country.
The geo-blocking ban is clearly a measure that would directly impact a large number of companies conducting online business in the EU.