The Geo – Blocking Regulation with regards to unjustified geo-blocking and other forms of discrimination based on customers’ nationality, place of residence or place of establishment within the internal market, which was adopted by the European Union on February 27th 2018, introduces notable changes on this field, as it is amending Regulations (EC) No 2006/2004 and (EU) 2017/2394 and Directive 2009/22/EC as well.
The main goal of the Geo – Blocking Regulation is to widely enforce the Non – Discrimination Principle, meaning that when a customer wishes to access and buy services from a national website, should be treated in the same way as customer physically based in that Member State.
In particular, the key points of the Geo – Blocking Regulation are analyzed as follows:
The Geo – Blocking Regulation applies to both all traders of goods and services, even online marketplaces, operating within the EU, and entities established in non-Member States, in case they operate a website within the EU.
The Geo – Blocking Regulation provides exceptions from its scope as follows:
- Audiovisual services, including «services the principle purpose of which is the provision of access to broadcasts of sports events and which are provided on the basis of exclusive territorial licenses» (e.g. services providing access to film and television content),
- Access to retail financial services (e.g. payment services) and
- Services in the field of transport.
*Caution in relation to the «non-audiovisual electronically supplied services», which their basic feature is the provision of access to and use of copyright protected works or other protected subject matter (e.g. electronic games, music, e-books):
Although the Commission press releases state that these services are excluded from the scope of the Geo – Blocking Regulation, the text of the latter suggests that these services are included within its scope.
GOODS AND SERVICES CATEGORIES:
- Physical goods
Example: An individual in German finds a good deal for a pc on a Greek website. The customer must be able to access the Greek website and purchase the products in the same way as a Greek customer can.
- Electronically supplied services (e.g. cloud services, data warehousing services, website hosting and provision of firewalls etc.)
Example: A French customer wants to access website hosting services from a Cyprus company. The customer must be able to have access and purchase these services in the same manner as a Cyprus customer.
- Services received at a physical location (e.g. hotel accommodation, sports events, car rental, entry tickets to music festivals or leisure parks etc.)
Example: A Portuguese customer wishes to book a hotel in Santorini on the Greek website must be treated in the same manner as a Greek customer and must not be automatically re-routed to the Portuguese website.
– Although traders cannot apply discriminatory conditions of access to goods and services, they have the right to refuse selling and the right to proceed in price differentiation.
– Traders are not obliged to deliver goods to customers outside the Member State to which they offer delivery.
The Geo – Blocking Regulation obliges traders to apply same payment conditions for customers for reasons of nationality, place of residence or place of establishment.
E-COMMERCE WEBSITE ACCESS
The Geo – Blocking Regulation provides that traders will not be allowed to block or limit customers’ access to their online interface for reasons of nationality or place of residence (e.g. preventing access on the basis of the location of a customer or automatically redirect them to a different version of their website without explicit consent).
The Geo – Blocking Regulation will prevail in cases of conflict with competition law, except of the suppliers’ right to impose active sales restrictions (when retailers are actively targeting customers).
The Geo – Blocking Regulation shall apply from 3 December 2018.
In conclusion, it is worth to be noted that, the Geo – Blocking Regulation leads to wider choices, better consumers’ deals and more businesses’ opportunities by removing the barriers throughout the European Union.
Edited by Dimitra Panagidi