We could say that an era in the field of online shopping in Europe ends: that of so-called geoblocking. This term was used to indicate the practice whereby traders from the Old Continent imposed different prices and conditions on domestic consumers and those from other EU countries, based on the place of their residence or the country that issued the credit or debit card with which the purchase was made.
With 557 votes in favor, 89 against and 33 abstentions, the EU Parliament gave the final green light to the new rules that put an end to geoblocking, thus also giving a new impetus to e-commerce. But let’s see in detail how the new discipline works and especially which products will be valid.
Goodbye to the redirection?
In essence, the mechanism by which consumers from foreign countries could not take advantage of online offers from other EU countries was based on the so-called “redirection”? In practice, when, for example, an Italian citizen found an interesting offer on the German version of an international site, he was automatically redirected to the Italian version where the discount or the product was no longer available.
In this way, in practice, the trader guaranteed himself a kind of surcharge often justified in an unconvincing way by the higher value of the shipping costs, which the European Parliament has now decided to consider discriminatory, abolishing it.
It should be noted that, however, there will be no obligation on the part of the trader to deliver in all EU countries, but the consumer can agree to the withdrawal of purchases in one of the countries where the trader is active.
The new rule, but not for all products
Beware, however, because the farewell to geoblocking, will not apply to all products purchased online.
The European Parliament’s measure applies only to the sale of accessories, services (from flights to rental cars, concert tickets or travel), and products not covered by copyright: therefore, purchases of music, videos, films, TV series, e-books, games, apps and all other products protected by copyright are excluded.
However, it is to be hoped that these restrictions can also be lifted when the new measures are reviewed two years after they enter into force.
Passion for online shopping
The new rules will target a very broad consumer audience. According to a study by the EU Commission, in 2017 57% of Europeans made online purchases, a percentage that rises to 68% for regular Internet users, while a third of consumers turned to shops in another EU country.
At the same time, only 37% of the attempts by users in one member state to buy on a website in another EU country were successful.
Deadlines: everything is ready for Christmas
The new European regulation, which abolishes geoblocking, will now have to be transposed by all member states, as is the practice, and is likely to enter into force nine months after its publication, i.e. by the end of the year.
The objective, in fact, is that next Christmas Europeans can buy their gifts without any more unjustified limitation of a geographical nature.