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Wider online offer for consumers
The European Parliament and the Council have reached an agreement on the new rules against geoblocking. These are intended to ensure that the blocking of online access to goods and services based on the geographic location of the user will soon be a thing of the past. MEP Anneleen Van Bossuyt considers this a milestone for the European internal market: “European consumers can from now on enjoy a wider and often cheaper online offer of goods and services. Companies in turn can benefit from a wider client base and what’s more won’t need to keep up-to-date with the intricacies of each European Member State’s individual laws.”
The new rules apply to all goods and services - apart from audiovisual media - that are sold online. Anneleen Van Bossuyt says: “A Fleming who wishes to book a weekend at Euro Disney via a French website in order to take advantage of cheaper prices will soon finally be able to do so. Consumers must not be hindered by obstacles such as automatic redirection to websites from their own country when looking for the best deals. Such practices do not belong in a unified internal market.”
Precautionary measures for companies
Furthermore, the agreement includes measures intended to ensure that companies do not have to know the individual consumer legislation of all Member States. That could otherwise be the kiss of death for a great many of our SMEs. Anneleen Van Bossuyt says: “A Belgian online webstore can decide in complete freedom to actively target specific markets such as the French or German market. However, if a Dutch customer wishes to buy something from that Belgian store and enjoy its after-sales service, that’s possible too. But the Belgian store will simply be able to apply Belgian consumer legislation. That stimulates our SMEs to sell online in other Member States and it increases their potential reach.”
The new rules will come into force at the end of 2018. “Just in time for next year’s Christmas shopping period,” says Anneleen Van Bossuyt with a smile.