Short Reads

European Commission publishes final report on e-commerce sector inquiry

European Commission publishes final report on e-commerce sector inqui

European Commission publishes final report on e-commerce sector inquiry

01.06.2017 NL law

On 10 May 2017, the European Commission published the final report on its e-commerce sector inquiry. The report identifies several business practices that might restrict competition in online markets. In the past, sector inquiries have been followed by enforcement action by the Commission in the industries concerned.

The Commission launched its two-year inquiry into the e-commerce sector in May 2015. Subsequently, it published initial findings on geo-blocking in March 2016 and a preliminary report in September 2016 [see our October 2016 Newsletter]. The final report is now available and focuses on the online sale of consumer goods and digital content.

As for the online sale of consumer goods, the report found that online price transparency and price competition has led companies to adjust their business practices. For example, a large proportion of manufacturers have opened their own online shop and now compete directly with their distributors. Moreover, manufacturers increasingly use contractual restrictions to control the online distribution of their products. For example, distributors may be prevented from using online platforms, price comparison websites or certain forms of online advertising. The Commission has warned that some of these practices may not be in line with competition rules because they unduly limit how products are distributed throughout the EU.

As for digital content, the inquiry found that contractual geo-blocking and exclusivity obligations are prevalent among digital content providers. Geo-blocking refers to the practice of restricting cross-border sales via the internet, which can manifest itself in multiple ways. For example, digital content providers may use a consumer's IP address to prevent cross-border access to digital content. In May 2016, the Commission proposed new legislation to address geo-blocking.

In its press release, the Commission said: "The insight gained from the sector inquiry will enable the Commission to target EU antitrust enforcement in European e-commerce markets, which will include opening further antitrust investigations". Indeed, the Commission has already launched several investigations in the e-commerce sector [see our March 2017 Newsletter].

This article was published in the Competition Law Newsletter of June 2017. Other articles in this newsletter:

  1. European Commission accepts Amazon's commitments in e-book probe
  2. Recent enforcement action emphasizes the importance of compliance with procedural EU merger rules
  3. European Commission issues new rules for State aid to ports, airports, culture and the outermost regions
  4. District Court of Amsterdam rules on the validity of the assignments and prescription of CDC's claims for damage in sodium chlorate cartel
  5. Belgian Competition Authority fines undertakings for bid-rigging in railway tender

Team

Related news

07.11.2019 NL law
Safeguarding legal privilege: better safe than sorry?

Short Reads - The European Court of Justice recently ruled that the European Commission does not have to take additional precautionary measures to respect the right of legal professional privilege when conducting a new dawn raid at the same company. Companies are well-advised to mark clearly all communications covered by legal privilege as 'privileged and confidential' and to keep all privileged communication separate from other communication.

Read more

12.11.2019 EU law
Third country bids in EU procurement: always excluded?

Articles - The European Commission recently issued guidance on the participation of third country bidders in public procurement. It clarified bids may be excluded, but remains silent on whether they may be accepted and under which conditions. The Commission is of the opinion that contracting authorities or entities can exclude bids if no access is secured. However, it does not discuss if and under which conditions contracting authorities or entities can allow foreign bids if no access is secured.

Read more

07.11.2019 NL law
Tackling Big Tech up-front? Time to stop thinking and start acting

Short Reads - Benelux competition authorities have published a joint memorandum on how best to keep up with challenges in fast-moving digital markets. As well as calling on the European Commission to issue an economic study on digital mergers, the memorandum calls for an ex ante intervention tool to fill the gap between interim measures and ex post enforcement. This tool would pre-emptively impose behavioural remedies on digital gatekeepers without first having to establish an actual competition law infringement.

Read more

08.11.2019 BE law
Interview with Wouter Ghijsels on Next Gen lawyers

Articles - Stibbe’s managing partner Wouter Ghijsels shares his insights on the next generation of lawyers and the future of the legal profession at the occasion of the Leaders Meeting Paris where Belgian business leaders, politicians and inspiring people from the cultural and academic world will discuss this year's central theme "The Next Gen".

Read more

07.11.2019 NL law
Rotterdam District Court rules that claims in elevator cartel damages proceedings need further substantiation

Short Reads - The Rotterdam District Court has ordered claimant SECC (a litigation vehicle) to substantiate its claims in proceedings against Kone and ThyssenKrupp regarding the elevator cartel. The Court also ruled that some claims have become time-barred, unless SECC can show that these were timely assigned to SECC and notified to Kone and ThyssenKrupp. The Court rejected several defences of Kone and Thyssenkrupp, including a jurisdictional challenge based on arbitration clauses between the defendants and assignors of claims to SECC.

Read more

Our website uses functional cookies for the functioning of the website and analytic cookies that enable us to generate aggregated visitor data. We also use other cookies, such as third party tracking cookies - please indicate whether you agree to the use of these other cookies:

Privacy – en cookieverklaring