Antitrust: Commission opens investigation into possible anti-competitive conduct of #Amazon

| July 17, 2019

The European Commission has opened a formal antitrust investigation to assess whether Amazon’s use of sensitive data from independent retailers who sell on its marketplace is in breach of EU competition rules.

Amazon has a dual role as a platform: (i) it sells products on its website as a retailer; and (ii) it provides a marketplace where independent sellers can sell products directly to consumers. When providing a marketplace for independent sellers, Amazon continuously collects data about the activity on its platform.

Based on the Commission’s preliminary fact-finding, Amazon appears to use competitively sensitive information – about marketplace sellers, their products and transactions on the marketplace. As part of its in-depth investigation the Commission will look into: (a) the standard agreements between Amazon and marketplace sellers, which allow Amazon’s retail business to analyze and use third party seller data, and (b) the role of data in the selection of the winners of the “Buy Box” and the impact of Amazon’s potential use of competitively sensitive marketplace seller information on that selection.

If proven, the practices under investigation may breach EU competition rules on anticompetitive agreements between companies (Article 101 TFEU) and/or on the abuse of a dominant position (Article 102 TFEU). The Commission will now carry out its in-depth investigation as a matter of priority. The opening of a formal investigation does not prejudge its outcome.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “European consumers are increasingly shopping online. E-commerce has boosted retail competition and brought more choice and better prices. We need to ensure that large online platforms don’t eliminate these benefits through anti-competitive behaviour. I have therefore decided to take a very close look at Amazon’s business practices and its dual role as marketplace and retailer, to assess its compliance with EU competition rules.” 

The full press release is available online in ENFRDE.

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