Amazon, EU Reach Antitrust Deal – Report

Amazon and EU antitrust regulators have reportedly reached a final deal, three years after Brussels first opened a probe into alleged anti-competitive practices at the firm.

The Financial Times reported that the deal with EU antitrust regulators concerns whether Amazon uses data to engage in anti-competitive practices.

Last month it had been reported that both sides were set to reach an antitrust settlement before the end of year, after Amazon offered more concessions.

Image credit: Amazon

Antitrust settlement

Now according to the FT, Amazon has committed to increasing the visibility of rival products by giving them equal treatment on Amazon’s “buy box”, which generates the majority of purchases on the site.

Amazon will also create an alternative featured offer for those buyers where speed of delivery is less important.

The European Commission plans to announce the deal on 20 December, four people with direct knowledge of the timing told the Financial Times.

However, they warned the date could still change at the last minute.

The commitments, which are set to remain in force for five years, have been “market tested” with rivals and agreed with EU officials, these sources reportedly told the FT. “There’s very little to discuss,” a person with knowledge of the process said.

The settlement deal would allow Amazon to avoid a financial fine of up to 10 percent of its global turnover. For repeat offenders this will increase to 20 percent.

It also represents a win for the EU, as it will serve as a blueprint for Amazon’s compliance with the Digital Markets Act that was agreed in March this year, which is designed to rein in the power of Big Tech firms.

Amazon’s settlement deal with Brussels comes three years after EU regulators first opened a probe into the group’s alleged anti-competitive practices in how it handles data from competitors.

According to the FT, as part of the settlement, Amazon will let sellers using its Prime membership scheme choose any logistics company and negotiate terms directly, instead of being locked into using Amazon’s logistics services.

Seller data

In July Amazon had offered proposals to the EU, including that it would stop using data from third-party sellers on its platform for its own competing retail business and own-brand products.

Amazon also offered to “apply equal treatment to all sellers” when ranking their offers for awarding the winner of the “buy box” on its website that generates most of its sales.

It offered to set up a second buy box for a rival product if it differs substantially in price and delivery from the product in the first box.

But a group of eleven NGOs in September said Amazon’s proposals were “weak, vague and full of loopholes” and could be easily evaded or abused by the company.

The group had urged the European Commission to force Amazon to split its marketplace from its retail and logistics operations to avoid anti-competitive dominance of interrelated services.

The group also said Amazon’s concessions would be less stringent than the requirements for large internet “gatekeepers” under regulations set to come into force next year.

Aside from the EU probe Amazon remains the focus of investigations by Germany’s cartel office and the UK competition regulator.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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