Informal agreement on the Geo-blocking Regulation gets delayed


The last Trilogue negotiation with the former Maltese Presidency of the Council, now in the hands of Estonia as of 1 July, took place last week. Commenting on the outcome of the meeting, MEP Roza Thun – Rapporteur for the European Parliament – expressed her disappointment because some Member States in the Council could not agree on some specific provisions of the draft law. In a blog post appeared on the website of the EPP Group, MEP Thun declared that EU negotiators agreed to resume the work with the Estonian Presidency, aiming at finding workable solutions, namely on the following aspects:

  • Discrimination in digital services, such as e-books, music, video games and software: the Parliament is in favor of including them in the scope if the trader has acquired licenses in the relevant EU countries, while the Council would prefer to leave such services out of the scope.
  • Rules prohibiting passive sales restrictions.
  • The review of this regulation.

Ecommerce Europe has always had a constructive approach towards the Proposal for a Regulation on geo-blocking. Nevertheless, the European e-commerce association has always called on policymakers to ensure that the Regulation will not put at risk online merchants’ right to economic and contractual freedom. In April 2017, the IMCO Committee of the European Parliament, in charge of this proposal, adopted its report on the Regulation. In Ecommerce Europe’s opinion, the work done by MEP Thun and the IMCO Committee contributed to improve many aspects of the text that created concerns for online merchants.

Nevertheless, Ecommerce Europe believes that it is a missed chance that some pragmatic and workable solutions, proposed by the Rapporteur in her draft report, were not retained in the final version of the text adopted by IMCO in April. Ecommerce Europe analyzed the IMCO Report and listed its positive elements and remaining concerns, namely potential negative impacts on traders if they would have to cover additional costs of shipping, issues regarding the applicable law and rerouting (for more details, please refer to p. 13-14 of the “Ecommerce Europe’s Manifesto”, available here).

Next steps

Most probably, an agreement on the Geo-blocking Regulation will not be possible before autumn 2017. In the meantime, Ecommerce Europe stays in close contact with EU policymakers, in order to ensure that the perspective of online merchants will be duly taken into account during the next rounds of negotiations.