EU’s antitrust watchdog launches investigation into Amazon

In September 2018, EU’s antitrust watchdog, the European Commission, launched a preliminary investigation into how the platform uses data about merchants. Margrethe Vestager, EU Competition Commissioner said that the informal probe concerns the e-commerce group’s dual role as a competitor while simultaneously acting as a host to third-party merchants, who sell goods on Amazon’s websites. “The question here is about the data,” Ms. Vestager said.

The Amazon marketplace investigation follows up on concerns raised by retailers in the course of an e-commerce sector inquiry in 2017 about so-called “dual-role” platforms, reported the Wall Street Journal. Amazon is a typical example for such a dual-role platform because it offers marketplace services to third-party sellers and sells products as an online retailer in direct competition with those third-party sellers on the same website.

Amazon may therefore gain access to competitively sensitive information about competitors’ products that it could use to boost its own retail activities at the expense of third-party sellers on its marketplace. The purpose of the preliminary investigation then is to verify whether these concerns have any merit and need to be followed up.

Sources: https://www.competitionpolicyinternational.com/eu-vestager-opens-probe-into-amazon-use-of-data-about-merchants/ and https://www.wsj.com/articles/european-union-probing-amazon-s-treatment-of-merchants-using-its-platform-1537367673

Author: CPI; Sam Schechner and Valentina Pop respectively

Publication: Competition Policy International and The Wall Street Journal respecitively

Further suggested reading: https://www.politico.eu/article/amazon-europe-competition-giveth-and-amazon-taketh-away/