The European institutions have reached an agreement on ending geo-blocking, a discriminatory practice that prevents customers from purchasing products or services from a website based in another EU member state. In the past, online retailers were able to treat online customers differently depending on their nationality or place of residence.
The new regulation, approved in late November 2017, bans retailers from automatically redirecting users to a local version of their website. It also prevents retailers from applying different payment terms according to the customer’s nationality or place of residence. According to the European Commission, the agreement means greater legal security for businesses and paves the way for cross-border selling. Businesses can still refuse to deliver products to certain countries if they wish, and are under no obligation to provide price guarantees. Although the change poses a potential threat in the form of international competitors in domestic markets, businesses should see the new rules as an opportunity, since it will enable them to reach new target audiences. The new measures will come into force at the end of 2018.
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