With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for online shoppers.
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Like many of us, you probably shop online. The use of devices connected to the internet like computers, mobile phones and tablets to buy goods (e.g. clothes and toys), access digital content (movies, e-books), and book services (e.g. hotel booking, car rental) online is increasing. More than 65 % of European internet users shop online, and e commerce is a growing phenomenon especially amongst young people.
However, EU internet users often complain that they cannot access what they want because geo-blocking practices restrict access to websites, content and services offered online in another country. As a result, on average two in three cross-border online shopping attempts made in the EU fail, and online shoppers must accept different conditions and prices for the same product or service, depending where they live.
The EU supports e-commerce and ensures European consumers can buy the goods and access the digital content and services they want online with less restrictions. Since April 2018, EU internet users benefit from new rules on cross-border portability for streaming their favourite TV series online when they travel, or are on holiday in another EU country. Furthermore, thanks to the EU, many geo-blocking practices restricting access to websites and online services are prohibited. By 2019, if you’re shopping online, you will be able to buy gifts for Christmas, book a hotel, or rent a car online, wherever you live in the EU without being blocked or paying unfair prices.
- EPRS publication, E-commerce: Ban on unjustified geo-blocking and discrimination practices among customers, 2018
- European Parliament, press release Parliament votes to end barriers to cross-border online shopping, 2018
- European Commission, factsheet Ending unjustified Geoblocking to boost online shopping in the EU, 2017