Europese Unie bans geoblocking | RetailDetail

European Union bans geoblocking

European Union bans geoblocking
Foto: Shutterstock

Consumers can no longer automatically be diverted to another website or be blocked from visiting a website abroad. The European Parliament reached an agreement on this issue and the ban will probably go in effect later this year.

 

“63 % of purchases abroad fail because of geoblocking”

Everyone who visits a website or web shop abroad, is often automatically diverted to the web shop of the country closest to his location. The content of many web shops abroad are therefore invisible and unreachable to European consumers. This results in limited cross-border shopping, particularly for e-commerce.

 

European Parliament has now decided to end this practice called geoblocking once and for all. Companies could in some cases recognize a surfer’s location and use that to deny certain content or to divert the user to another website. Even if there was no location were recognized, consumers could be blocked or diverted based on their address or credit card information, according to the EU.

 

“About fifteen % of consumers buys something abroad online, in another EU country. However, a study by the European Commission says that 63 % of attempts to buy something online in another EU country fail because of geoblocking or discrimination based on country or residence”, MEP Hilde Vautmans (Open VLD) told De Standaard.

 

Exception for Netflix and others

Geoblocking allowed companies to charge different prices based on their location, but that is no longer allowed. The European Commission already filed a proposal in 2016 to halt geoblocking and it has now finally voted on the issue. “A milestone for the internal European market”, Belgian MEP Anneleen Van Bossuyt (N-VA) said. Both the left and right are largely unified in their opinion on the matter.

 

The decision fits the EU’s goal to create a single market, with free trade as the prime objective. The European Union wants to stimulate cross-border shopping and international retail, because it believes this will strengthen European retailers and that they will be better able to cope with major competitors from other companies.

 

There is however one exception, for anyone who sells digital and audiovisual content, such as e-books, movies, music, computer games and more. Services like Netflix and Amazon Prime can still withhold certain content from certain countries and regions. Retailers can also not be forced to ship physical goods anywhere in Europe. The EU will reevaluate its exceptions in 2020.

 

Own consumer legislation to be applied

It is still possible to divert online users to local websites, but this has to be clearly indicated and consumers have to have the opportunity to refuse the referral. In other words, anyone who locates a cheaper product in Portgual, should be able to buy it as well.

 

Companies focused on international trade will be able to operate within their own country’s legislation, unless they choose to target a specific market: “a Belgian store will simply be able to apply Belgian consumer legislation”, it is said. Prior to the enactment of this new legislation, the European member states also have to formally approve it. The legislation should be enforced before the end of the year.

Questions or comments? Please feel free to contact the editors


Gerelateerde items

“Urgent action needed against territorial supply constraints”

23/05/2018

(content provided by EuroCommerce) Speaking to mark the launch of the Benelux study on territorial supply constraints, EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren argued for the EU to act on big brands’ fragmentation of the European market.

Action owner 3i wants to keep chain after all

22/05/2018

Investor 3i wants to keep a hold of Action after all. Even though the owner made it seem like it was looking for a buyer, 3i now denies it.

Action owner wants to sell stake

18/05/2018

Action’s owner, investment firm 3i, aims to sell a part of the discount store chain next year. The Brits would want to sell a 35 % stake in the firm.

Starting this Friday, Belgium has its own national e-commerce event

15/05/2018

Move over, Black Friday! This week, Belgium launches its own national e-commerce event as Jack & Jones, Kiabi, La Redoute, Sarenza, Tape à l'Oeil and Veritas organise the first Belgian Friday.

Belgian paint web shop Deverfwebshop.be expands into France

14/05/2018

An expansion into Wallonia and France beckons for Belgian paint web shop deverfwebshop.be and its new counterpart boutiquepeinture.fr. Moreover, the company is looking for a new financial partner to help with this move.

Belgian fund close to HEMA acquisition

09/05/2018

Belgian Core Equity holding is allegedly close to acquiring Dutch chain HEMA: a verbal agreement is apparently in place, all that is required are the signatures.