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European Comission unveils harmful behavior by online stores

The European Commission’s new report reveals that some online stores adopt anti-competitive behavior that is harmful to consumers.

he most widespread strategy is geoblocking (geographical limitation) which unlawfully limits consumer choice and prevents lower prices online. EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager issued a statement saying that “there is a need to balance the interests of both online and ‘brick-and-mortar’ retailers. All for the benefit of consumers.”

One of the major problems mentioned in the report is that almost 60% of digital content providers who participated in the inquiry have contractually agreed with right holders to ‘geo-block’. The European Commission says that it is possible to do so, provided that it is “for objectively justified reasons, such as dealing with VAT issues or certain public interest legal provisions.”

For this reason, Margrethe Vestager says that she has proposed legislation to ensure that consumers seeking to buy online or in physical stores in another EU country are not discriminated against in access to prices, terms of payment or sale, unless this is duly justified.