Should the same product or service cost the same across the EU?  Not necessarily: charging different prices in different markets in the EU is definitely not illegal.

However, Article 20 of the EU's Services Directive provides that Member States should ensure that companies are prevented from treating customers differently on the basis of their residence or nationality.  The Directive covers a wide range of services, including: B2B services such as management consultancy, logistics, waste management and training; services that are provided both B2B and B2C such as estate agency, construction, catering and storage; and B2C services such as tourism, leisure services, driving instruction, entertainment, gardening and house building trades.

Financial services such as banking, credit and insurance; electronic communications (although see below on geo-blocking); transport services and healthcare services are not covered by the Directive.

Whilst the rules do not apply to the manufacture or sale of goods, services ancillary to the supply of goods (for example, after-sales service or customer advice) are in our view within scope.

Action has previously been taken against discriminatory practices engaged in by car rental companies: that involved a lengthy investigation, following which car rental companies committed not to differentiate prices by reference to a consumer's country of residence, unless the difference could be justified by objective (cost based) reasons.  This year, the Commission started investigating similar practices engaged in by a major amusement park in France.  Those investigations are ongoing.

The Commission has also announced that it will be taking legislative action against geo-blocking.  You can access the consultation on the proposals here.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.