DG Competition Reveals Final Report of E-Commerce Sector Inquiry; Online Marketplace Bans Hold Back E-Commerce

BY Heather Greenfield
May 10, 2017

Brussels, BELGIUM — Today DG Competition published its final report on the E-commerce Sector Inquiry. The sector inquiry was launched in May 2015 as part of the Commission’s Digital Single Market Strategy. Its aim is to identify competition concerns in European e-commerce markets and private barriers to the completion of a digital single market.

As already indicated in DG COMP’s preliminary report, the final report confirms that manufacturers impose contractual sales restrictions in their distribution agreements with resellers. These restrictions range from price recommendations to prohibitions on cross-border sales.

CCIA is particularly concerned with online marketplace bans which prevent authorized

resellers from using online marketplaces as a sales channel. The Commission’s report confirms that this is the second most widespread restriction which manufacturers include in their distribution agreements. The final report says that absolute marketplace bans may well violate competition rules and that specific antitrust investigations may follow from the report.

The following can be attributed to Jakob Kucharczyk, Director, CCIA Europe:

“We welcome DG COMP’s work which provides a clearer picture on restrictive practices in e-commerce. The report confirms the importance of e-commerce for greater price competition and consumer choice. It also confirms that restrictions preventing European sellers from using online marketplaces remain widespread in many European countries. These restrictions are particularly detrimental for small and medium-sized sellers. They also harm competition and consumer choice.”

“The importance of online marketplaces has continuously increased for sellers. That trend will continue as more and more consumers shop through mobile apps. Turning a blind eye on these restrictions will mean that thousands of sellers will not be able to benefit from the latest technological wave. This in itself merits rigorous enforcement action against blanket marketplace bans.”

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