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European Commission Press Releases

Digital Single Market – Portability of online content services

George Miller



Digital Single Market – Portability of online content services
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Brussels, 27 March 2018

Questions and Answers

What is the objective of the Regulation?

The aim is to ensure that Europeans who buy or subscribe to films, sports broadcasts, music, e-books and games in their home Member State are able to access this content when they travel or stay temporarily in another EU country. The Regulation comes into force on 1 April 2018 in all EU Member States.

Who benefits from the new rules?

  • Consumers who reside in the EU: new rules enable them to watch films or sporting events, listen to music, download e-books or play games – when visiting or staying temporarily in other EU countries.
  • Providers of online content services: they will be able to provide cross-border portability of online content to their subscribers without having to acquire licences for other territories where the subscribers stay temporarily.

The interests of right holders are safeguarded to avoid abuses.

Do providers have to offer the same service wherever the subscriber is travelling? How will it work for video-on-demand services like Netflix, which is active in more than one country in the EU?

Yes, providers of paid-for online content services (such as online movie, TV or music streaming services) have to provide their subscribers with the same service wherever the subscriber is in the EU. The service needs to be provided in the same way in other Member States, as in the Member State of residence. So for Netflix for example, you will have access to the same selection (or catalogue) anywhere in the EU, if you are temporarily abroad, just as if you were at home.

The new rules do not prevent service providers to offer additional options to their users when they are abroad, such as access to the content which is available in the country they travel in. Whether the service provider in question will allow or maintain access to the local content in addition to their obligation under the regulation will therefore depend entirely on the service provider.

Is there a limitation in time? What will happen if a person lives in one country and works in another on a daily basis?

The portability regulation covers situations in which subscribers are temporarily abroad. This term is not defined in the Regulation. However, what is meant by this is to be present in a Member State other than the Member State of residence. It covers various scenarios including holidays and business trips.

The new rules do not set any limits for the use of the portability feature, as long as the user resides in another Member State. Service providers should inform their subscribers of the exact conditions of their portability offers. For example, if you live in Belgium and subscribe to a paid music streaming service there, you will have access to the same selection of music in other Member States, as at home in Belgium.

This portability of your online content will be available if you commute daily to other Member States, like France or Luxembourg for example.

How will the content service providers verify the country of residence of their users?

The service provider will have to verify the subscriber’s country of residence. This will be done at the conclusion and renewal of the contract.

Service providers will be able to verify the country of residence through different information provided by the subscriber. The Regulation provides for a closed list of such verification means to limit interference with consumers’ privacy. The means listed include for example payment details, payment of a licence fee for broadcasting services, the existence of a contract for internet or telephone connection, IP checks or the subscriber’s declaration of their address of residence. The service provider will be able to apply not more than two means of verification from this list. Any processing of personal data will have to be carried out in accordance with EU data protection rules.

Does the Regulation also apply to online services that are free of charge?

Providers of online content services that are free of charge are able to choose whether they want to benefit from these new rules. Once they opt-in and allow portability under the Regulation, all rules will apply to them in the same manner as for the paid services. This means that the subscribers will have to log-in to be able to access and use content when temporarily abroad, and service providers will have to verify the Member State of residence of the subscriber.

How can a consumer know which online services provided free of charge have opted-in?

If providers of free of charge online content services decide to make use of the new portability rules, they are required to inform their subscribers about this decision prior to providing the service. Such information could, for example, be announced on the providers’ websites.

Are public broadcasters covered? Can I watch BBC, Arte or other services?

Online content services covered by the Regulation may also include services offered by public broadcasters. The question whether a particular broadcaster is covered by the scope of the Regulation depends on whether the following conditions are fulfilled:

  • Consumer can already access the services on different devices and not limited to a specific infrastructure only,
  • The TV programmes are provided to subscribers whose Member State of residence is verified by the provider and,
  • The online content services are either provided against payment or the provider has decided to make use of the new portability rules on a voluntary basis.

Can I watch films from the broadcasters in another country online, such as movies from Spanish or Estonian TV in Belgium?

If a broadcaster of online content in your home Member State is covered by the new portability rules, you will be able to watch your content when you are temporarily abroad in another Member State.

On the contrary, accessing content that is offered in another Member State from your home country is not covered by the new portability rules. Consumers would, however, for certain TV and radio programmes benefit from the proposed Regulation on broadcasters’ online transmissions and retransmissions of radio and TV programmes currently under negotiations. This will give the broadcasters and producers the additional choice to give cross-border access to more programmes (see factsheet).

Do you have examples of problems that the Regulation solves?

People travelling or staying temporarily in other EU countries have often faced restrictions: they can be cut off from their online content services or have only limited access. Many people – especially when they leave for short trips – will not find it convenient to buy a subscription to a local service, or may find that their favourite films and series are not available or only in a foreign language.

  • A subscriber trying to watch films using his Home Box Office (HBO) Nordic account when on holiday in Italy sees a message saying that the service “is only available in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland”.
  • A French user of the MyTF1 film and series service is not able to rent a new film while on business trip to the UK.

Users may have been able to, for example, only view the content that they have already downloaded onto their portable device.

  • Users of the Belgian film service Universciné must remember to download a film they have rented before leaving for a trip in another EU country. They are not able to use the Universciné streaming feature when away from their home country or download films when they are abroad.

These issues will be resolved by the new portability rules. The restrictions concerning the portability of subscriptions to online music services (like Spotify or Deezer) or e-books seem to be less significant. But restrictions in the future cannot be excluded, that is why today’s rules are also important for such services.

Is the portability of sports online subscriptions covered by the new rules?

Yes, various online sports content services will be covered. This includes services where sports are part of a paid-for TV online content service (for example, streaming services such as Zattoo in Germany), or where sports are part of the overall online services package (for example Sky Go), as well as where a sports organiser sets up a dedicated online content service.

Will the service provider be able to charge for portability?

No, under the new rules, online content services will not be allowed to impose additional charges on subscribers for providing cross-border portability of their content.

What are the new rules saying if a service provider starts to limit the titles of music, films or games available when travelling abroad?

Subscribers to paid-for online content services and free online content services that have opted-in will have the same access to these services when they travel as in their Member State. This means that when accessing the service in another Member State, it will be like at home: offering the same content on the same range and number of devices, and with the same range of functionalities.

Any action taken by a provider that would prevent subscribers from accessing or using the service while temporarily present in another Member State: for example, restrictions to the functionalities of the service are contrary to the Regulation. This means that the provider cannot limit the catalogues of music, films or TV series available when you travel to another Member State.

Are the main providers of online content technically ready to apply the new Regulation from 1 April?

The Commission has been in close contact with the main providers of online content services (like platforms for TV shows, movies, music, sports, etc.) and has received positive feedback from them that the roll out of the new portability rules has been going smoothly and on time. Where service providers had encountered issues, we understood that they were in the process of overcoming them. The Commission has been monitoring closely the process and will continue to do so.

The regulation is binding for paid-for services. Providers of free content may opt in to benefit from the new rules, but do not have to do so. Some service providers have already announced to opt in (YLE in Finland, RTBF in Belgium), and the Commission expects that others will follow now that the new rules have become applicable.

European Commission Press Releases

EGBA Welcomes EC Commitment to Improve Digital Single Market

Niji Narayan



EGBA Welcomes EC Commitment to Improve Digital Single Market
Photo Source:
Reading Time: < 1 minute


The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has welcomed the European Commission’s commitment to improving the digital single market.

In its work programme, the Commission announces several new initiatives aimed at strengthening the operation of the single market, particularly for digital services, and making it work more effectively for online consumers.

EGBA believes the Commission’s commitment to improving the digital single market should include a review of its approach to online gambling. With more than 16.5 million Europeans betting online, there is clearly a need for a more consistent EU policy towards this cross-border sector worth €22.2 billion and growing by 10% each year.

“EGBA welcomes the Commission’s commitment to making the single market work for online consumers. More than 16.5 million Europeans bet online but their rights are not protected by any EU rules. It is time to bring the EU’s approach to online gambling into the 21st century – the Commission should act,” Maarten Haijer, Secretary General of EGBA, said.

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European Commission Press Releases

European Commission Criticises Third German State Treaty on Gambling

Niji Narayan



German games funding programme officially notified by the European Commission
Photo Source:
Reading Time: 2 minutes


The European Commission has criticised the latest incarnation of Germany’s State Treaty on Gambling.

After the proposed legislation was submitted to the Commission in May, general director Lowri Evans has submitted a response which casts doubt on the effectiveness of the planned framework.

Evans criticised the short-term nature of the third amended State Treaty on Gambling. Evans questioned the logic of implementing the Treaty for such a short period from 1 January 2020 to 30 June 2021.

In order to secure a licence, operators will be required to shut down any online casino offerings and offer sports betting without in-play wagering. Players will be restricted to spending €1000 per month, with a 5% turnover tax levied on licensees. These restrictions and fees are expected to slash operators’ revenue should they be fully enforced.

Evans noted that the controls to be implemented could make the market particularly unattractive for operators. With the processing of licence applications to begin from 2 January, the first working day of 2020, licences could be valid for less than 18 months.

Evans casts doubt on whether goals of the Treaty, such as increasing player protection and driving unlicensed operators from the market, could be achieved in an 18-month period. Evans also queried when the effectiveness of the Treaty would be assessed, something pledged when it was first introduced in 2012.

“The Commission emphasises the need for a continuous evaluation of the implementation and application of the State Treaty, in particular (but not limited to) sports betting. The German authorities have already committed in 2012 […] to an evaluation of the appropriateness and effectiveness of the provisions relating to sports betting. Unfortunately, in view of the previous non-award of sports betting licenses, no such evaluation has yet been carried out. Therefore, the German authorities are invited to [explain] how and when an evaluation of the appropriateness and effectiveness of the sports betting provisions will take place,” Evans stated.

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Compliance Updates

Europe that Protects: Stronger rules criminalising money laundering enter into force

Zoltan Tundik



Dimitris Avramopoulos at the Europe for Citizens - Meeting of the Civil Dialogue - Date: 28/11/2018 Reference: P-038870/00-05 Location: Brussels - EC/Centre A. Borschette © European Union , 2018 / Source: EC - Audiovisual Service / Photo: Benas Gerdziunas
Reading Time: < 1 minute


Today, the new measures to counter money laundering by criminal law enter into force across the EU. The new rules will ensure that dangerous criminals and terrorists face equally severe penalties for money laundering wherever they are in the EU, with a minimum term of imprisonment of 4 years.

Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “If we want to catch criminals and terrorists, we have to follow the money. Today, we are beefing up the EU’s response to money laundering, making sure that criminals and terrorists no longer get away with illegally gained money and face deserved justice. A Europe that protects is a Europe that effectively prevents and prosecutes criminals.”

Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King said: “Money laundering is a key tool used by terrorists and serious criminals to obtain funding – by harmonising the crime and the punishment across the EU, we can further close down the space in which they operate. Member States now need to implement the new rules without delay.”

The Commission proposed to harmonise offences and sanctions for money laundering across the EU in December 2017. While all Member States currently criminalise money laundering the definitions of this crime as well as the penalties related to it differ across the EU, allowing criminals to effectively “window shop” and exploit the differences between national legislation.

With the new rules in force that will be no longer possible. Member States now have 24 months to implement the new rules into national law and notify the Commission accordingly.

The recent changes and all AML related topics will be highlighted during Prague Gaming Summit by the attending experts of the gambling industry in a special panel discussion. You can find more details on the following page.

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