Ziga: Slovak EU Presidency Has Managed to Do Away with Geo-blocking

Slovak Economy Minister Peter Ziga (stock photo by TASR)

Brussels, November 28 (TASR-correspondent) – The Slovak Council of the EU Presidency has managed to secure a general agreement among member states to scrap trade barriers in internet commerce, said Economy Minister Peter Ziga at the Council of the EU for Competitiveness in Brussels on Monday.

So-called “unjustified geo-blocking” on the internet should soon become a thing of the past, stated Ziga.

At a joint news conference, Ziga along with European Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Elzbieta Bienkowska assessed the situation prevailing on the common EU market, particularly from the perspective of support for start-ups and innovations. Both praised the decision of the United Kingdom to support the unified European patent. Support for the system has already been declared by Germany. The stance of these two large EU countries represents a change vis-a-vis the existing state of affairs of the previous 40 years and is good news for small and medium-sized entities in particular.

According to Ziga, geo-blocking was one of the central items on the agenda of the session, as the Council of the EU has managed to approve a motion sponsored by the European Commission within as little as five months. The EU executive submitted a package of measures in late May aimed at enabling European consumers and companies to purchase and sell products and services via the internet without any geographically based blocking.

Ziga pointed out that the motion was passed at the Council of Ministers by a qualified majority. He specified that up to 56 percent of Europeans attempt to buy products via the internet, but one third of them faces unwillingness on the part of sellers to carry out cross-border online trade.

“Up until now, there were no rules, and internet website operators could reject a client from Slovakia, for instance, if he or she tried to make a purchase in Austria,” said Ziga.

According to Ziga, the agreement passed by the European ministers on Monday, which was successfully brokered by the Slovak presidency, discarded further trade barriers and has opened the way to some practical benefits. E-shop sellers will no longer be able to turn down a client based on their citizenship of another EU country and will have to accept their national payment card.