Anyone who's traveled to another country knows how frustrating it is to be geoblocked from streaming content that's available back at home. Due to licensing restrictions, content providers like Netflix aren't always able to provide the same viewing experience across different countries, and so some countries get access to a worse content library than others. Hypothetically, this shouldn't happen within the European Common Market (to which the European Union belongs), which seeks to "guarantee the free movement of goods, capital, services, and labour," but in reality there's always some gap between theory and practice. However, that begins to change with the EU's Cross-border portability of online content services policy, which went into effect yesterday.

Essentially, the policy ensures a 'Digital Single Market' within the European Union, meaning that any EU resident that travels within the EU is guaranteed access to the same content he or she pays for back at home, including services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or Spotify (notably, the guarantee does not extend to services which are made available free-of-charge). Not only is this good for consumers, it also lets providers make their content available in other countries to their subscribers without having to acquire additional licenses.

What the policy does not require, however, is for providers to have the same content catalogue across the European Union, nor does it require that these online services be available to every country within the EU. Unfortunately, that does appear to mean that while some EU residents will be better off when traveling, others will face the same content restrictions abroad as they do at home, which hadn't been the case until now. So for a Frenchman traveling to Italy, where the Netflix catalogue is generally worse than it is in France, the change means he can continue to access everything he did in France, but an Italian will no longer be able to access additional content when visiting France.

At the end of the day, the new policy may or may not be better for you depending on where you live. It also does not apply to EU residents traveling outside the EU, nor does it affect content availability for non-EU residents traveling to the EU. Hopefully, this will serve more as a first step towards building a true 'Digital Single Market' in which the same content is licensed and made available indiscriminately throughout the European Union.