Irish people to be able to access online subscriptions from anywhere in the EU

The new rules to end geo-blocking kick in from April 1st

Irish people to be able to access online subscriptions from anywhere in the EU

File photo

A plan to allow Irish people access online subscriptions from anywhere in the European Union comes into force from April 1st.

This means Irish people will be able to access services such as Netflix, Spotify and Sky Sports wherever they are in the EU.

Previously, online subscriptions were not widely available in different countries due to varying national regulations - also known as geo-blocking.

Providers of free content, like TV3's 3Player, may also opt-in and make their programming available across the bloc.

In a statement, Netflix says its members can already watch content everywhere where the service is available.

But under the new EU rules, "subscribers from EU member states travelling within the EU will be able to take their home catalogue with them for a limited period of time."

Speaking from Brussels, Ireland South MEP welcomed the new measures.

She said: "Removing the boundaries that prevent Europeans from travelling with digital media and content subscriptions is yet another success of the Digital Single Market for European citizens.

"So wherever you are in Europe, you will never miss out on your favourite Irish sports broadcasts, TV series, films, games or e-books, that you have digitally subscribed to at home."

The new rules directly respond to new behaviours and habits amongst European citizens using new technologies.

Consumer spending on video subscription services rose by 113% per year between 2010 and 2014, and the number of users by 56% between 2014 and 2015.

Image: © European Union 2016

It is also estimated that at least 29 million people, or 5.7% of consumers in the EU, could make use of cross-border portability and many more in the future - up to 72 million people by 2020.

While almost 60% of young Europeans say that being able to travel with their subscriptions is an important factor in choosing to subscribe to online services.

The European Council adopted a regulation to ban unjustified geo-blocking in February.

It said: "Geo-blocking is a discriminatory practice that prevents online customers from accessing and purchasing products or services from a website based in another member state."

The new law will remove barriers to e-commerce by avoiding discrimination based on customers' nationality, place of residence or place of establishment.

The rules will prevent discrimination for consumers and companies on access to prices, sales or payment conditions when buying products and services in another EU country.

Other services such as financial, audio-visual, transport, healthcare and social services are excluded.