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New regulations proposed by the EU Commission have entered into force which aim to end geo-blocking within the EU. 

Geo-blocking is where online sellers restrict access to their website by either refusing to sell to consumers or redirecting them to another website with different (often higher) prices. This practice is usually based on where the consumer is located.

The new rules prohibit websites blocking or re-routing users based on where the user is, what EU state they’re from, or where their bank cards are issued.

An EU spokesperson said: "In 2015, 63% of the websites did not let shoppers buy from another EU country. As a result, nearly two-thirds of consumers who wanted to shop online abroad were prevented from doing so.”

The regulations are designed to put an end to this practice and are an essential initiative that makes the Digital Single Market a reality, delivering concrete benefits to citizens and businesses. 

The regulations follow a report by the European Consumer Centre Network (ECC-Net), called Do Invisible Borders Still Restrict Consumer Access to Services in the EU?  which in 2017 found that some traders were using business practices such as geo-blocking to create artificial barriers and restrict consumers’ access to goods and services.

Andy Allen, UK ECC service director, said: “Consumers too often faced restrictions with no justification while the reasons invoked by traders were unconvincing and lacked objective criteria.

“At the time of the report ECC-Net welcomed the European Commission’s acknowledgement that further action was necessary for the principle of non-discrimination to be effective and in order to develop rules against discrimination based on the nationality or place of residence of consumers.”

If you have experienced discrimination by a business, based on nationality and place of residence, please contact the European Consumer Centre for Services for advice on 01268 886694 or eccs@tsi.org.uk



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