The EU geo-blocking Regulation (Regulation 2018/302 of 28 February 2018) (the Regulation) comes into force on 3 December 2018. The Regulation aims to remove barriers to cross-border trade and enable consumers to purchase goods and services from businesses located in different Member States on equal terms to nationals of that Member State. Businesses selling online in the EU, regardless of where they are based, will need to make sure that their terms and conditions, including payment methods, do not discriminate against online customers on the basis of their nationality, place of residence or place of establishment.

Ending unjustified geo-blocking has been an important goal for the Commission under its Digital Single Market initiative which aims to break down barriers to cross-border online activity and remove key differences between online and offline markets. Other measures which are aimed at promoting cross-border e-commerce in the EU include:

  • a new Regulation on cross-border parcel delivery services making pricing more transparent and affordable (which came into effect on 22 May 2018);
  • new rules to reduce the VAT related administrative burden of cross-border transactions (which come into effect in January 2021);
  • a new revised Consumer Protection Cooperation Regulation (which will take effect from 17 January 2020) which will allow national authorities to cooperate to jointly address breaches of consumer law with a cross-border element.

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