Menu
EU threatens to open e-commerce antitrust investigations

EU threatens to open e-commerce antitrust investigations

Manufacturers and suppliers may be unfairly restricting retailers' access to e-commerce channels, the European Commission warns

The European Commission may open antitrust investigations into price restrictions and online sales bans in the e-commerce industry, it warned Thursday.

It is concerned that consumers across the European Union may be paying more than they should for a range of physical and digital goods sold online because of restrictive practices by manufacturers and distributors.

The European Union's goal of creating a single market for goods and services has historically been hampered by the geographical and linguistic barriers to selling across the 28-country bloc -- but e-commerce can help businesses break down both of these.

However, the online market is creating barriers of its own to competition, the Commission found, potentially threatening its latest initiative, the Digital Single Market, a way of removing national barriers to online sales.

In a year-long study, it found evidence that one in five retailers is prevented by suppliers from selling goods online, while two in five face some form of price recommendation or restriction from manufacturers. One retailer in 10 was contractually restricted by its suppliers from submitting information to price comparators, used by many consumers to find the best deal.

Industry lobby group CCIA echoed the Commission's warning. "Restrictions preventing sellers from using marketplaces as a sales channel harms competition, consumer choice and European small and mid-sized businesses," European director Jakob Kucharczyk said via email. "The Digital Single Market is bound to remain theory if it cannot become a reality for millions of European businesses because of unjustified online sales restrictions."

CCIA members have some skin in the game: They include Amazon.com, eBay, Netflix, Paypal and Rakuten, all major players in e-commerce or the sale of digital goods and services.

The Commission published its preliminary findings Thursday, in a report based on its analysis of 8,000 distribution contracts involving 1,800 companies reselling electronic and digital goods across the EU.

The market for digital goods such as ebooks and music downloads is little better, it found. Copyright licensing agreements restrict the territories where people may buy such digital goods, with more than 60 percent of license agreements restricting sales to a single country, the Commission found.

The Commission is inviting people to comment on the preliminary report, giving it some direction before publication of the final version. Depending on its findings, it may take action against companies it believes are breaking European competition law.


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Featured

Slideshows

Kiwi channel closes 2017 with After Hours

Kiwi channel closes 2017 with After Hours

The channel in New Zealand came together to celebrate the close of 2017, as the final After Hours played out in front of a bumper Auckland crowd.

Kiwi channel closes 2017 with After Hours
Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

HP honoured leading partners across the channel at the Partner Awards 2017 in New Zealand, recognising excellence across the entire print and personal systems portfolio.

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ
Tech industry comes together as Lexel celebrates turning 30

Tech industry comes together as Lexel celebrates turning 30

Leading figures within the technology industry across New Zealand came together to celebrate 30 years of success for Lexel Systems, at a milestone birthday occasion at St Matthews in the City.​

Tech industry comes together as Lexel celebrates turning 30
Show Comments