MEPs hail Commission’s decision to charge Amazon with breaching EU antitrust rules

This comes after EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager said the company had misused data of third-party merchants that rely on Amazon’s online marketplace to favour its own products.

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

12 Nov 2020

A second EU competition probe has also been launched into possible abuse to the benefit of Amazon’s own retail business, which competes with third party sellers.

The company has been sent a formal Statement of Objections to which it has the opportunity to respond. In a statement Amazon said it disagreed with the findings.

The statement said, “There are more than 150,000 European businesses selling through our stores that generate tens of billions of euros in revenues annually.”

The investigation was welcomed by Renew Europe leader Dacian Cioloș, who said, “The jobs of millions of Europeans depend on a well-functioning and competitive single market and this decision to investigate Amazon’s abuse practices that harm our SMEs is very much welcome.”

He added, “Amazon may have used sensitive data big scale to compete against small retailers.”

“The jobs of millions of Europeans depend on a well-functioning and competitive single market and this decision to investigate Amazon’s abuse practices that harm our SMEs is very much welcome” Dacian Cioloș, Renew Europe leader

Cioloș said he was concerned that the company had “abused its dominant position as a marketplace provider in Germany and France.”

In a statement, the Commission said it was its view that “the use of non-public marketplace seller data allows Amazon to avoid the normal risks of retail competition and to leverage its dominance in the market for the provision of marketplace services in France and Germany - the biggest markets for Amazon in the EU.”

If confirmed, this would infringe EU rules that prohibits the abuse of a dominant market position, it added.

The Commission also said it had opened a second antitrust investigation into Amazon’s business practices that “might artificially favour its own retail offers.”

The Commission will now carry out an in-depth investigation “as a matter of priority.”

“We must ensure that dual-role platforms with market power, such as Amazon, do not distort competition. Data on the activity of third-party sellers should not be used to the benefit of Amazon when it acts as a competitor to these sellers” Margrethe Vestager, European Commission Executive Vice-President

Vestager, Commission Executive Vice-President, said, “We must ensure that dual-role platforms with market power, such as Amazon, do not distort competition. Data on the activity of third-party sellers should not be used to the benefit of Amazon when it acts as a competitor to these sellers.”

She added, “The conditions of competition on the Amazon platform must also be fair. Its rules should not artificially favour Amazon’s own retail offers or advantage the offers of retailers using Amazon’s logistics and delivery services. With e-commerce booming, and Amazon being the leading e-commerce platform, a fair and undistorted access to consumers online is important for all sellers.”

Further comment came from Markus Ferber, EPP spokesman on the economic and monetary affairs committee, who said the investigation “must be conducted quickly to make sure that Amazon ends its abusive behaviour as quickly as possible.”

He said, “We must draw the right lessons from the previous investigation into Google, which dragged on too long and thus inflicted irreparable damage to the market.”

“Platforms like Amazon are the gatekeepers of the digital economy and yield considerable power. Competition authorities have to be vigilant to make sure that there is fair competition on digital platforms, particularly when a platform operator is in direct competition with some of its users.

“This set-up is ripe for abuse and the Commission is right to step in forcefully when there is even the slightest hint of abuse of a dominant market position.”

Read the most recent articles written by Martin Banks - Poor air quality causes over 400,000 premature deaths in EU each year

Categories

Industry & Finance
Share this page