Websites to be banned from putting blocks on cross-border shopping

Online retailers are to be banned from stopping a customer in one country buying from a website based in another under plans for a single European digital economy. Companies would be ordered to stop geoblocking, which means customers can only see websites based on where they live and which sometimes have higher prices. The practice “flies against the logic of a single market,” the EC said. However, critics said the idea failed to address the issues - such as differing rates of VAT - which led e-tailers’ to block customers. "This is like putting a sticking plaster on a broken leg,“ said John Higgins, director general of e-tailers’ alliance DIGITALEUROPE.

In the online world, all too often consumers are blocked from accessing offers in other countries. Such discrimination has no place in the single market.

EU Commission

The proposals need the approval of the European parliament to become law and will not apply to copyright-protected items such as e-books, music and games. However, they will not force companies to deliver cross border - customers who buy from another country will have to make their own arrangements. In separate proposals, the EC also said Netflix and other on-demand video providers such as iTunes and Amazon must have at least a 20% share of European-made content. It also called for warning symbols to be used on material which was unsuitable for children.

Cultural quotas are outdated and unnecessary — video-on-demand providers are already investing heavily into European local content

Computer industry spokesman James Waterworth criticises the 20% proposal