The European Commission has published a new e-Commerce packaging, described as “a three-pronged plan” aimed at “tackling geoblocking, making cross-border parcel delivery more affordable and efficient and promoting customer trust through better protection”.
The package consists of three legislative proposals: a proposal on unjustified geoblocking; a proposal on cross-border parcel delivery services; and a proposal on consumers’ rights.
The geoblocking legislative proposal aims to ensure that “consumers seeking to buy products and services in another EU country, be it online or in person, are not discriminated against in terms of access to prices, sales or payment conditions”. However, exceptions are proposed for “objectively justified for reasons such as VAT or certain public interest legal provisions”. Audio-visual copyrighted works licensed by territory, including music, film, and sports broadcasts, are also excluded from the prohibition on geo-blocking.
On consumer rights, the Commission proposes to give more powers to national authorities, including the power to:
- check if websites geo-block consumers or offer after-sales conditions not respecting EU rules (e.g. withdrawal rights);
- order the immediate take-down of websites hosting scams;
- request information from domain registrars and banks to detect the identity of the responsible trader.
In a Commission press release, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, Andrus Ansip, said:
All too often people are blocked from accessing the best offers when shopping online or decide not to buy cross-border because the delivery prices are too high or they are worried about how to claim their rights if something goes wrong. We want to solve the problems that are preventing consumers and businesses from fully enjoying the opportunities of buying and selling products and services online.