In 2018, through the 2018/302 EU regulation, the European Union showed an intent to end unjustified geo-blocking, and this regulation was enforced in December of 2018. This resulted in allowing citizens from all EU member states to access all goods and services from any other country in the European Union.
EU citizens couldn’t buy goods and services from other EU websites in the past. For instance, if you lived in Italy and needed to buy something from a French-based site, you would be exempted from accessing the website if you are not in France. If you were in Sweden, you would need to use the fastest VPN in Sweden to access products and services in other EU country websites.
Since the implementations of the 2018.302 regulation, the European Union put a stop to these unnecessary e-commerce prohibitions against member EU states.
What does the end of geo-blocking mean?
As of December 3rd, 2018, it has become possible for anyone within the EU to access goods and services from any business located in another EU member state. As a client, you will be entitled to the same conditions as other shoppers based in the e-commerce business country, including the same price and delivery guidelines.
Even with equal shopper rights, the business you purchase from is not obligated to deliver your order in your home country if it does not usually deliver there. In this case, you can either go pick your order personally or organize with a cross-border courier service to have it shipped to you.
How it affects the consumer
As a consumer from any EU member state, you are no longer blocked or limited when it comes to the e-commerce websites you can access from your home country. You can also access smartphone apps for businesses outside your country based on reasons linked to your nationality, postal address, place of residency, delivery address, language, or location of the bank you are transacting from.
Before implementing the regulations, all these were factors that affected your ability to purchase from another EU state. Additionally, you cannot be redirected to a national website without your consent.
For instance, if you reside in France and want to connect to a business in Italy, you will access the website in the Italian language. Before redirecting you to a French website, the site needs to ask you whether you prefer to remain on this site or redirected to a page in your language. Once you choose to be redirected to a French website, the site saves your data for future visits.
Even with the redirection, you are able to return to the original website if you wish to. The only reasons that can block you from accessing foreign sites are only public security and legal reasons. The business is required to inform you of these reasons before blocking your access.
Goods and services now accessible with the new guidelines.
- New or used second-hand goods sold online and delivered to EU states. These can include electronics, clothes, and furniture.
- Digital products that are not protected by author’s rights like information storage, website hosting, and online directories, among other digital products.
If you live in France and prefer to host your website on a Bulgarian platform, you can access this service and purchase them with the same conditions are buyers in Bulgaria. You will also enjoy access to services provided within the country of establishment like accommodation, car rentals, sporting events, tickets to festivals, etc.
Goods and services not applicable to the new guidelines
- Gambling services – you cannot access gambling sites outside of the country the site is hosted.
- Transportation services
- Financial services
- Works protected by the author’s rights like music, eBooks, videos on demand, audiovisual services, and online games.
The Geo-blocking ban applies to all private and public businesses, large or small, as long as they are within the EU or a 3rd country that redirects its activities to the EU.
Price regulations in the EU e-commerce sites
The prices on the e-commerce site may not always be the same in all countries. Websites are allowed to have different price interfaces for each member state. However, you can purchase with the nation’s price by buying from the state’s site as opposed to redirecting to your country site. #
If you understand multiple EU languages, you can take advantage of the different price ranges by buying from the low prices site.
With the new regulations, businesses can still use geo-blocking to limit access to their e-commerce website. However, they will be required to give a valid reason for doing so.