European Commission Proposes New Regulation On Platform-to-Business Relations

BY Heather Greenfield
April 26, 2018

Brussels, BELGIUM — The European Commission today presented a new proposal for a Regulation affecting many online platforms and search engines. The proposed Regulation on “promoting fairness and transparency for business users of intermediation services” will require online intermediation services to offer business customers using these services more transparency on terms and conditions, rankings and any collected data. The proposal also includes provisions for online search engines that do not have a contractual relationship with the millions of online businesses they rank.

The proposed Regulation comes three years after the European Commission asked stakeholders for comments on online platforms and after a study, which found that the biggest problem business users had with online platforms were actually technical, rather than any systemic issues. Online platforms have enabled a wide range of businesses to offer services and products to customers as well as to communicate and to collaborate with colleagues. There are big differences in what platforms do, but one factor they share is the need to be responsive to their business customers’ feedback and requests to keep them using their services.

The following statement can be attributed to Jakob Kucharczyk, Vice President, Competition & EU Regulatory Policy:

“Online platforms go to great lengths to maintain good relations with their business users because it’s in their own interest to do so. Thriving business users are the key ingredient for thriving online platforms. There is no evidence of a systemic problem that would justify regulation through the strongest legislative instrument available to the EU. A more flexible approach, rather than an outsized, one-size-fits-all Regulation, would be more conducive to the growth of Europe’s digital economy.”

“The expansion of the Regulation’s scope to non-contractual business relations is a fundamental change that has never been part of the discussions leading up to today’s proposal. It is hard to see how such last minute change was guided by anything other than politics.”

For additional background on the issue of platform regulation, please see Jakob Kucharczyk’s DisCo blog post.

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