MEPS beef up rules ending unjustified geo-blocking across the EU
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In a committee vote on Tuesday, MEPs “beefed up” rules to ensure that buyers of goods or services from another EU country are treated like local customers.
The draft law defines specific situations in which geo-blocking will not be allowed. Movies and football matches not covered for now, MEPs said.
MEPs added that this means that online sellers will not be able to discriminate against consumers elsewhere in the EU with regard to general terms and conditions, including prices, on the basis of their nationality, place of residence or even their temporary location.
Buyers from another EU country than the trader would be able to, without paying more:
buy goods (e.g. household appliances, clothes) even when the trader does not deliver them in the consumer’s member state of residence, if there is an option to collect the goods at an agreed location in another EU country (the proposal does not introduce an obligation to deliver across the EU),
receive online from the trader services not protected by copyright, such as cloud services, firewalls, data warehousing, website hosting, (added by MEPs) receive e-books, e-music,
games or software (i.e. non-audiovisual copyrighted content) if the trader has the right or a licence to use such content for the countries concerned), and
make a booking outside the consumer’s place of residence (e.g. hotel stays, sports events, car rental, music festival or leisure tickets).
Any automatic re-routing to another website without the consumer’s prior consent would also be banned, except if an EU or national provision, e.g. related with minors, would make it necessary.
MEPs said that sectors such as audiovisual services (including broadcasts of sports events provided on the basis of exclusive territorial licenses), or financial, transport, electronic communication or healthcare services are excluded from the scope of the draft regulation for the time being.
However, the EU Commission must assess within three years of its entry into force whether they should be covered in the future, added the committee.
“Our work aims at a gradual opening of the European market for consumers and for traders by giving them clear rules. Consumers will have better access to goods and services online and for traders it will be less burdensome to sell to consumers from different member states,” said Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee rapporteur Róza Thun.
The mandate was approved by 31 votes to 2, with 1 abstention.