More legal certainty needed in the draft Geo-blocking Regulation after Council agreement

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In Ecommerce Europe’s opinion, the political agreement that the Council managed to reach on the Geo-blocking Proposal does not yet fully answer the needs of online merchants. Although Ecommerce Europe recognizes that the Council’s text adopted yesterday represents an improvement, it is still crucial for online merchants to obtain a higher degree of legal certainty in the context of the future geo-blocking law and solve remaining issues linked, for instance, to the applicable law and rules, payments and rerouting.

 “In principle, Ecommerce Europe has always supported the objective of the proposal to allow all customers to benefit from the same general conditions that would be applicable if such customers would have their habitual residence in a country where the trader actually delivers the goods or provides services. However, traders’ fundamental freedom to contract should always be safeguarded”

-Marlene ten Ham, Secretary General of Ecommerce Europe.

 The adopted text lacks legal certainty in relation to the rules applicable for the assessment of a defective product. Ecommerce Europe considers it crucial for online merchants that any assessment of whether the product has a defect has to be made based on legal obligations and conditions in the country where the goods are actually supplied. A product will therefore not be considered defective if it complies with the requirements of the country of delivery, even if it turns out that it does not comply with the requirements of the customer’s home country. This should also include labelling, product safety, sectorial or language requirements.

 Despite this, Ecommerce Europe welcomes the fact that the Council explicitly stated that the prohibition to discriminate customers should not be meant as precluding traders from offering goods or services in different Member States with targeted offers and differing terms and conditions, including different prices, as long as the traders treat their customers in a non-discriminatory manner. Moreover, Ecommerce Europe fully supports, and views as fundamental, the explicit reference that this Regulation should not impose any obligations for merchants to deliver goods cross-border to another Member State that they do not cover.

Ecommerce Europe will assess in more detail the adopted text and will work together with EU legislators to solve not only the above-mentioned issues, but also to further discuss potential negative impacts of the prohibition to reroute customers without their explicit consent and other items such as those related to payments and strong authentication. During the whole legislative process, Ecommerce Europe will ensure that the interests of the e-commerce industry are taken into account.

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