Monday

24th Sep 2018

Focus

EU to relax online shopping, but not film or music

  • Proposal does not lift limitations on films or music across the EU (Photo: newyorkpass.com)

The European Commission on Wednesday (25 May) came out with a set of proposals that aim to ease access to online services and goods for customers across the EU.

However, the commission did not fully ban what is called geo-blocking, a practice in which companies treat consumers using the same service differently depending on their location. It also left all audiovisual copyright content, such as films, music and online games out of the scope of the proposal.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The commission last December proposed the idea of “portability”, meaning, for instance, that a Belgian consumer could access their Netflix video-on-demand account while visiting, say, Germany.

The portability model, if adopted by EU parliament and member states, will only let customers access the Netflix content available in their home country. It would not have given them open access to Netflix content in all EU states.

The proposal presented on Wednesday does not lift the limitations imposed by online services to access films or music across the EU either.

Providers of copyright content said that prices in each country are set to its relative purchasing power. They were concerned that customers would migrate to platforms were the film or music was the cheapest.

The commission’s proposal does ban discrimination while buying from online retailers based in a different place than the customer’s home country. It would also outlaw automatic redirection to the retailer’s local online store.

It would let, for instance, a Belgian consumer buy items from a Polish online retailer at Polish prices, but the customer would have to arrange their own delivery.

In an another attempt to ease cross-border online shopping, the proposal would require traders to more readily accept bank cards issued in different EU countries.

The EU’s digital affairs commissioner Andrus Ansip told journalists on Wednesday that the bill was a compromise.

"We will start with tangible goods, services that are consumed locally, like car rental, hotel rooms, and after 2018 it will include data clouds, data warehousing, and hopefully soon we will be able to deal with audiovisual content," he said.

"I would like to reach concrete aims, thats why I am ready for compromises," he added.

The former prime minister of Estonia, a leading country in online services, has repeatedly said he “hates geo-blocking”.

He said on Wednesday that it would have to be dismantled “step-by-step” but promised further action “very soon”.

EU sources said Ansip had wanted to already include online copyright material, but the German EU commissioner Guenther Oettinger, who shares the digital portfolio, and the copyright lobby blocked him.

The liberalisation of cloud services, data warehousing and website hosting was delayed until mid-2018 to help the sector prepare for changes.

20 percent rule

The commission also on Wednesday unveiled rules that would require video-on-demand sites, such as Netflix or Amazon Prime, to introduce a 20-percent quota for European content in their streaming services.

"The quota is pretty close to the already existing average, it is not a big news to service providers,” Ansip said. He said the quota would “enrich” the “choice of films” for EU nationals.

European films account for 21 percent of Netflix's catalogue.

According to the proposal, EU countries could force streaming services to help fund the production of European TV shows and movies.

They would force websites such as YouTube to introduce stronger age barriers for young viewers and to crack down on hate speech.

The commission also wants to replace the current limit of 12 minutes of advertising per hour to a smaller daily limit.

EU leaders impatient with digital rules, leak says

'Despite considerable progress, work in this area needs to be accelerated in order to meet this deadline' of finishing the digital single market by the end of 2018, leaked draft conclusions of next week's summit said.

Are EU data watchdogs staffed for GDPR?

The success of the new general data protection regulation (GDPR) will depend on whether data protection authorities enforce the new rules - which, in turn, will be at least partly determined by how many people they employ.

Eight countries to miss EU data protection deadline

The EU starts enforcing its general data protection regulation on 25 May - but Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania and Slovenia won't be ready. The delay will cause legal uncertainty.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. Every major city in Europe is getting warmer
  2. No chance of meeting EU renewable goals if infrastructure neglected
  3. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  4. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia
  5. Sound of discord at 'Sound of Music' Salzburg summit
  6. Salzburg summit presses for bigger Frontex mandate
  7. UK's post-Brexit plan 'will not work', EU says
  8. Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  5. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  6. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  9. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  11. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us