Geo-Blocking of Goods That Require Cross-Border Delivery: A Preliminary View on EU Policy Considerations
19 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2017
Date Written: May 19, 2017
The European Commission has made legislative proposals to address “unjustified geo-blocking and other forms of discrimination based on customers’ nationality, place of residence or place of establishment …” The Commission’s proposal seeks to address long-standing concerns that relatively few consumers in the EU make e-commerce purchases cross-border within the EU, and that relatively few merchants sell cross-border.
The Commission’s legislative proposal avoids imposing restrictions on geo-blocking (i.e. “conditions of access”) on any goods that require cross-border delivery. The exclusion is understandable inasmuch as cross-border delivery of goods imposes burdens on the merchant – it is clear that prices to the end-user cannot be the same as in the case of domestic delivery. At the same time, this “carve out” means that a large fraction of e-commerce is outside the scope of the key provisions of the proposed legislation.
This paper represents a very preliminary attempt to identify the challenges, and possible responses to them. The challenges regarding shipping costs that initially drew our attention to the problem could potentially be addressed in a fairly straightforward way, but there are numerous additional challenging problems that would need to be addressed, and these are more difficult to gauge.
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