Council adopts proposal to allow consumers to access online content when travelling within the EU.

The EU’s bid to give consumers access to their OTT content services while abroad has taken another step forward, after the plan was approved by the EU Council.

The rules are due to come into force during the first quarter of 2018, and apply to all paid-for online content services, like Netflix, for example. They will be optional for free services.

"Europeans travelling within the EU will no longer be cut off from online services such as films, sporting broadcasts, music, e-books or games they have paid for back home," said a statement from the Maltese presidency of the EU Council.

Cross-border access to OTT content services is a key part of the EU’s Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy, and was proposed in December 2015 by Andrus Ansip, the European Commission’s vice president for the digital single market.

To get access to content while abroad, the service provider must verify the end user’s member state of residence. Forms of verification include passport, bank account or credit card, or proof of address, among others.

Alternatively, the copyright holder will have the option to authorise the use of their intellectual property abroad without obliging the service provider to verify the end user’s residence.

The Council’s decision, announced last week, comes just days before the end of retail mobile roaming charges across the EU.

"This is important progress in creating a digital single market which benefits everyone," the Maltese presidency said.