The European Commission’s Geo-blocking Proposals and the Future of EU E‑commerce Regulation

Pieter Van Cleynenbreugel

Abstract

As part of its Digital Single Market strategy, the European Commission envisages to take action aimed at eradicating the practice of blocking one’s website to persons established or residing in a particular EU Member State. To that extent, a 2015 proposal for a regulation on the portability of online streaming services and a 2016 proposal for a regulation on geo-blocking outside the audio-visual context have been presented, the scope of which will be analysed in this paper.

Although the proposed Regulations would tackle topical problems in EU e commerce and thus offer a necessary step forward in enhancing cross-border trade in the European Union, their envisaged regulatory approach raises important concerns from enforcement and rules’ circumvention points of view.

Taking stock of those two concerns, the paper will reflect upon ways to mitigate their detrimental effects. Arguing that the geo-blocking proposals already contain the basic tools for such mitigation, the paper advocates the adoption of a more streamlined EU competition law and e-commerce regulation enforcement strategy, complemented by a “technologically more pro-active” EU law interpretation stance to e-commerce at the EU level.

Keywords

Digital Single Market, E-commerce Regulation, Geo-blocking, Online Content Portability, Enforcement, Competition Law

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References

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