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According to a European Commission survey the majority of websites do not let consumers buy from another EU country.
Traders use various practices restricting online cross-border sales based on nationality, residence or place of establishment.
These discriminatory practices can occur both online and off-line and include: denying delivery to customers from other Member States, declining foreign payment cards, automatically re-routing foreign customers to the version of the website tailored to their home country.
A new EU Regulation aims to put an end to unjustified geo-blocking, creating new opportunities for customers and businesses across the EU. The Regulation (EU) 2018/302 (“the Regulation”) took effect on 22 March 2018 in all EU Member States and applies from 3 December 2018.
The Regulation applies to traders offering goods and/or services to customers in the EU, irrespective of their country of establishment. Hence, U.S.-based companies engaging in cross-border transactions with EU customers have to comply with the Regulation.
The new legal framework benefits:
The Regulation imposes on traders the obligation to treat EU customers that are in the same situation on equal terms, without regard to their nationality, place of residence or place of establishment.
This obligation particularly applies to the following areas:
The blocking of access to websites and re-routing without the customer’s prior consent are prohibited under Article 3 of the Regulation. Customers have the right to access the version of their choice of e-commerce websites.
Under Article 4 of the Regulation:
Traders are not allowed to apply different conditions for a payment transaction, within the range of means of payment accepted by them, for reasons such as nationality or place of residence.
Under the Regulation, traders are free to charge different prices on their websites as long as they allow the customers to access the various versions of websites and benefit from the different prices.
The same holds true for promotions. Traders remain free to launch sales, promotions and other types of discounts on the websites of their choice provided that consumers from other Member States can access these special offers on a non-discriminatory basis.
Under the Regulation, Member States are required to designate specific bodies responsible for the enforcement of the Regulation and adopt appropriate measures for non-compliant traders. In Luxembourg, a draft bill provides that the European Consumer Centre will be responsible for the enforcement of the Regulation. Under the bill, consumers and consumer associations may bring an action for an injunction against traders violating the Regulation. Traders could face up to 120 000 euros in cases of non-compliance with the injunction.
 Regulation (EU) 2018/302 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 February 2018 on addressing unjustified geo-blocking and other forms of discrimination based on customers' nationality, place of residence or place of establishment within the internal market and amending Regulations (EC) No 2006/2004 and (EU) 2017/2394 and Directive 2009/22/EC
 Draft bill No 7366