European Parliament: Online sector needs stronger competition rules

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The European Parliament highlighted the importance of the interests of web shops, and especially SMEs, in European competition policy at the last Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) Committee meeting.
In the debate on the European Commission’s Annual Competition Report, the policy makers found consensus on the fact that the completion of the Digital Single Market needs stronger European rules that regulate fair competition. They stated that access to for example big data, search engines, and online comparison sites should be made transparent and feasible for all online players, be it big American tech companies or small European web shops.

Competition in the e-commerce market
In December 2013 the European 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, which may lead to higher consumer prices or the unavailability of products through certain online sales channels.

The European Commission is also still in an antitrust case with Google, about equal access to search engine results. During the IMCO meeting in the European Parliament MEP Andreas Schwab stressed that the ongoing case is causing uncertainty in the market, and that the European Commission should push the case forward as soon as possible.

Annual Report on the Competition Policy
The Annual Report on Competition Policy is published every year by the European Commission. The report provides detailed information on the most important policy and legislative initiatives in EU competition policy, and on decisions adopted by the Commission in application of the European competition law during the previous year.

Next steps
Competition policy remains on top of the EU political agenda. While Ecommerce Europe is not directly involved in the competition investigations, it is in continuous dialogue with the European Commission about ensuring a level playing field in the e-commerce sector. For an overview of our ideas for a fair and competitive digital market, please see our position paper on e-Regulations.

Web merchants experiencing unfair competition and restrictions on online sales can (anonymously) contact the European Commission here.

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