Netflix
Under the new proposal, Netflix users would be able to watch the same content while on holiday abroadNetflix

The European Commission wants you to be able to enjoy watching Netflix and other on-demand services in any European Union country you visit. If accepted, the proposal, made on 9 December, would let subscribers take these apps abroad and use them as if they were in the UK, with no copyright limitations.

The proposal was welcomed by the BBC, which said it would like to see a way for licence fee payers to consume its content while abroad. Both Netflix and Sky also supported the plan, agreeing it would give more value to customer subscriptions. Although the BBC announced its interest in the proposal, it later clarified that iPlayer would be exempt for now, as it does not currently verify a user's country of residence.

If it is approved by the European Parliament, the proposal would let Netflix subscribers watch films and TV programmes in any EU country they travel to. Currently, Netflix offers different content in each of the countries it is available in, and none at all - even to paying, UK-based users - if they access the service from a country where it is not yet available.

Andrus Ansip, vice president for the EU's Digital Single Market, said: "We want to ensure the portability of content across borders. People who legally buy content - films, books, football matches, TV series - must be able to carry it with them anywhere they go in Europe."

'Temporarily abroad'

Subscribers in EU countries would be able to watch the content as if they were in the UK, but only if they are "temporarily abroad" and based in the UK for the majority of the year. Those who move to live in Spain or France, for example, would not have the same access to the BBC, Sky Sports and Netflix as they do in the UK.

Although the proposal has mostly gone down well among programme providers, the Premier League has raised concern. "One unresolved issue is the absence of any time limit on the period that applies to portability," said Premier League chairman Richard Scudamore. The worry is that football fans could buy a subscription to watch matches on their phone when in the cheapest country, then use it from home in the UK.

The BBC said: "We are interested in being able to allow UK licence fee payers to access BBC iPlayer while they are on holiday in the EU, and welcome the European Commission proposing regulation to help make this possible....Being able to offer BBC iPlayer also depends on the UK Government implementing legislation to modernise the licence fee to include VOD as well as linear viewing, something the Government has committed to do next year. That will mean users of BBC iPlayer could be verified as UK licence-fee payers while they are on holiday in the EU."

The European Commission also announced plans to allow providers to sell content across the EU under a single set of copyright rules, rather than adjusting user contracts for each country they operate in. This, the commission says, will help ensure production companies and rights holders get the best chance to sell their content legally, rather than encouraging consumers to download programmes illegally because they cannot easily buy them.

It added: "Overall, the commission wants to make sure that Europeans can access a wide legal offer of content, while ensuring that authors and other rights holders are better protected and fairly remunerated."