Recently the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition has launched a sector inquiry into e-commerce in the EU. The aim is to gain a better understanding of possible antitrust concerns within the supply chain structure of Europe’s online marketplace. Businesses in all 28 EU Member States are being asked to provide data that may shed light on any existing barriers to cross-border online trade. POLITICO Europe has written an insightful article on the Commission’s probe into relationships retailers have with their suppliers. Concerns include how much retailers are restricted in selling their products online or outside their home country.
The Commission appears to be collecting information about what brands are most in demand, who are the main retail competitors, and how important is price vs. customer service vs. availability of the latest product model . The inquiry is also asking about the reasons for different prices for the same model in different countries. The resulting data is to be used in future reform but could also be used for future antitrust investigations, so retailers are taking care to expend substantial resources ensuring the answers are accurate and thorough.
But what about the current effect on businesses?
Martin Rees, from our London office, is quoted on the effect the Commission’s focus into supply chains is having on retailers. Martin is a partner in the Antitrust and Competition and Regulatory Group and specializes in contentious competition law, including the defense of clients in investigations by the European Commission and UK Competition and Markets Authority. POLITICO’s article is an interesting analysis into a sector inquiry with a potentially significant impact on future regulation and investigations. Definitely worth the read.