Digital Single Market
Digital Economy & Society

First brief results of the public consultation on Geo-blocking and other geographically based restrictions when shopping and accessing information in the EU

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This public consultation ran from 24 September 2015 till 28 December 2015 for 12 weeks in all 23 EU languages.

The public consultation has been launched as part of the EU Digital Single Market strategy and concluded at the end of December 2015. Its objective was to gather evidence and views and opinions on the restrictions faced by users, consumers and businesses when they access or provide information, shop or sell across borders in the European Union. Responses were sought from consumers, businesses, national authorities at all levels and all other interested organisations.

Who replied to the Public consultation?

More than 430 replies were received in total:

  • Around 65% came from consumers and consumer organisations
  • Approximately 31% from companies and business associations and
  • Around 4% from Member States governments or their authorities

As to the geographical distribution of responses:

  • Replies came from almost all Member States
  • The biggest number of responses was received from Germany (21%), Belgium (10%), UK (9%), Austria (9%) and Italy (5%).

In addition to the responses to the public consultation, around 60 position papers have been received mainly from companies and industry associations.

Preliminary trends observed in the Public consultation

Without prejudice to the results of the analysis of the Public consultation, the following trends can be observed overall:

  • More than 90% of consumer respondents agree or strongly agree that consumers and businesses should be able to purchase and access services everywhere in the EU. They also strongly agree that geo-blocking and other geographically based restrictions create significant obstacles to the single market.
  • More than 80% of consumer respondents indicate that they have experienced geo-blocking and the vast majority of them supports a legislative solution to tackle unjustified geo-blocking.
  • Companies largely share the view that geoblocking/discrimination is an issue and that consumer choice and competition are important. The first trend shows that many companies agree that consumers resident in other Member States should not in principle be denied access to offers available to consumers resident in another Member State (as is the case in the physical world).
  • However, companies stress respect for contractual freedom. Many of them are strongly opposed to requiring traders to sell and deliver goods outside of the areas where they would normally do business.

Next steps

The contributions to the public consultation were published. The Commission has carryed out an in-depth analysis of the replies to the public consultation. A full report was published. The results fed into the Commission's legislative proposal to end unjustified geo-blocking which was published on 25th May 2016.