Competition in the Digital Economy: Priorities for the new European Commission

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Fair competition in the Digital Single Market will be a priority for the new Commission. Ecommerce Europe supports the Commission in striving for a level playing field in e-commerce.

As “digital President” Jean-Claude Juncker presented his new team for the European Commission, he provided each new Commissioner with a ‘mission letter’ stating their most important tasks for the coming years. In line with earlier calls by Ecommerce Europe, Juncker made it a point to streamline digital in all necessary portfolios. For the mandate of new Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager (Denmark) this means she needs to liaise closely with the Vice-President for the Digital Single Market and that ensuring fair competition in the digital economy of the EU will become high priority.

Antitrust investigations
In the past years the European Commission has already put into place antitrust investigations into several online practices. They are for example still searching input from online merchants about restrictions on online sales. In December 2013 the Commission launched investigations at the premises of a number of companies active in the manufacture, distribution and retail of consumer electronics products and small domestic appliances. The Commission has grounds to suspect that the companies subject to the inspections may have put in place restrictions on online sales of their products.

Google case
Next to this current Competition Commissioner Almunía opened the high-profile investigations against possible abuse of dominance by Google. Just this week it became clear that the European Commission will not accept the third set of compromise commitments proposed by the search giant, after vocal criticism from the many complainants in the case. It is now most likely that, for the first time in the history of EU antitrust cases, a fourth set of compromise commitments will have to be proposed.

More investigations
According to Ecommerce Europe it seems likely that the Commission will soon start investigations into restrictions of online sales of other product categories as well. They are looking for online merchants to share their experience with such restrictions which may lead to higher consumer prices or the unavailability of products through certain online sales channels.
Web merchants experiencing unfair competition and restrictions on online sales can (anonymously) contact the European Commission here: http://ec.europa.eu/competition/contacts/antitrust_mail.html

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