EU decides to end geoblocking for online retailers

December 2017
| E-Commerce

The European Union has decided to force online retailers operating in the bloc to make goods available to all EU consumers regardless of where they live.

Geoblocking is a practice that online retailers use to stop consumers from specific countries to shop on their platforms. The measures to stop this practice aim to create a digital single market. The EU has been eyeing online retailers who use geoblocking since May 2017, when the law was first put into discussion.

The agreement between the European Parliament, the EU’s 28 member states and the Commission will allow EU consumers to buy products and services online from any EU country. The agreement applies to ecommerce sites including Amazon and eBay.

Ecommerce companies cannot re-direct consumers to a country-specific website without their consent. However, the law does not make it mandatory for companies to offer cross-border delivery.

The proposal does not extend to copyright-protected content, which includes music streaming services such as Spotify and Apple’s iTunes, electronic books, television series and movies, reports Reuters.

The Parliament had hoped to include these services, but music industries successfully argued this could lead to price increases in countries where such services are cheaper.

The European Parliament and member states are expected to approve the new legislation early next year. It is seen entering force by the end of 2018.