EC Looking into Anticompetitive Practices in European E-Commerce
March 30, 2015
The European Commission (EC) is launching a year-long investigation into e-commerce in the EU in the hopes of removing barriers to cross-border trade. European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the inquiry will attempt to identify anticompetitive activity. Companies that deliberately block online sales to certain countries or charge different prices in different countries could face EC action, Vestager said.
The announcement comes a day after the EC unveiled plans to create a Digital Single Market in the European Union. Vestager’s investigation will attempt to uncover many of the problems the EC said are hampering e-commerce in Europe. But the Digital Single Market, which will work toward presenting an overall strategy in May, will look at improvements to the entire digital economy—not just e-commerce—including modernizing copyright law and simplifying the VAT regimes of different countries in addition to anticompetitive practices like geo-blocking.
“Let us do away with all those fences and walls that block us online,” said Andrus Ansip, vice president for the Digital Single Market. “People must be able to freely go across borders online just as they do offline. Innovative businesses must be helped to grow across the EU, not remain locked into their home market. This will be an uphill struggle all the way, but we need an ambitious start. Europe should benefit fully from the digital age: better services, more participation and new jobs.”