EP amendments real improvement to 'imperfect' geoblocking proposal

EP amendments real improvement to 'imperfect' geoblocking proposal

(content provided by EuroCommerce) - EuroCommerce has hailed the European Parliament's efforts to improve the text of the Geoblocking Regulation, but still thinks more changes are necessary.

"Text leaves some uncertainty"

EuroCommerce today paid tribute to the work of European Parliament rapporteur Roza Gräfin von Thun und Hohenstein (EPP, PL) in making a number of welcome improvements to the text of the Geoblocking Regulation. EuroCommerce has actively engaged in the discussions on this proposal and we are pleased to see so many MEPs sensitive to business concerns and working to achieve a proposal that meets customers’ expectations without damaging business.

 

Speaking after the vote in the EP Internal Market Committee, EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren said: “We have always supported the Regulation’s general aim of removing any discrimination against consumers, and are pleased with many of the amendments voted on today. Retailers don’t willingly turn away customers – they are there to sell things, and are the strongest advocates of the Single Market. Unfortunately, despite Mrs Thun’s and other MEPs’ real efforts to find common-sense solutions to issues of legal clarity, the proposal in its present form will still do little to help in building a digital Single Market for SMEs, or satisfying consumers.”

 

The amendments agreed today offer some additional safeguards to the Commission’s proposal. These reflect key EuroCommerce concerns, and include:

  • stronger safeguards regarding payments respecting trader’s freedom to offer payment means of their choice and limiting the risk of fraud or non-payment,
  • clarity that the trader does not need to comply with the laws or to use the language of the Member State where the trader does not intend to sell,
  • no need to obtain consent every time the customer visits the same website.

 

We regret that the text leaves some uncertainty regarding additional costs of shipping returned or defective goods, but we hope that the discussions in the trilogue will clarify this in line with the Council proposal.

 

As the rapporteur has mentioned on a number of occasions, one of the main reasons why traders are not willing to sell cross-border is legal uncertainty. It was disappointing that the pragmatic solution proposed by Ms Thun did not gain sufficient political backing. However, we are pleased about the improvement in the text clarifying which traders’ actions aimed at providing good customer service will not necessarily be treated as targeting that market.

 

Christian Verschueren added: “We have always called for more harmonisation of very different consumer and other regulations across Europe as the only way to boost cross-border sales. By leaving traders exposed to legal risk if they deliver to customers abroad, the Geoblocking Regulation will deter SMEs from actively trading across borders. This will also not help consumers, who will have to arrange their own delivery, in gaining access to the best choice of goods at attractive prices. We appreciate the Parliament’s work in improving the text, but regret that what was a flawed proposal remains an imperfect one.”

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