Geo-blocking is a bane for millions of Europeans, who are prevented from watching digital content like tv, movies and sport because they’re in the wrong country.
Brussels pledged to tackle the issue as part of plans for a single digital market announced on Wednesday.
Andrus Ansip, EU Vice-President for Digital Market said there was a huge untapped market for services delivered digitally.
“There are 100 million European citizens sitting at home, who would like to get access to digital content – to movies, music and e-books from other EU countries – but they can’t because of geo-blocking,” he said.
A single digital market could revolutionalise the way we shop, said officials. At present, around one in seven Europeans buy from websites in other EU countries. Just four percent of online services are sold cross-border, the rest are sold nationally or bought from the US.
EU officials predict that a fully functional single digital market would contribute more than 400 billion euros to the economy.
The plans will also see copyright laws modernised and harmonised, although specifics won’t be announced until a later date.
“We have 28 relatively small markets, and 28 regulations. But those excellent regulations are creating barriers between member states,” warned Ansip.
But some MEPs think they don’t go far enough and want a complete relaxation of copyright regulations.
Julia Reda from Germany’s Pirate Party said: “Juncker’s ambition to tear down national walls regarding copyright is no longer recognisable. They’re being much too cautious.”
Brussels has also vowed to give European start-ups a level playing field to compete with the likes of Facebook and Google.
But many fear that digital content produced in other languages will lose out to dominance of anything created in English.
POLITICO Europe (@POLITICOEurope) May 6, 2015
EU unveils plan to unite region’s online markets and crack down on possible abuses by U.S. Internet firms: http://t.co/momx0Parth— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) May 6, 2015