German Watchdog Opens Fresh Amazon Investigation

Image credit: Amazon

Amazon faces a third antitrust investigation in Germany; this time examining if it has exploited its market dominance in the country

Tougher new laws in Germany have been used to begin an antitrust investigation of e-commerce giant Amazon over alleged market domination.

The Germany competition regulator, the Federal Cartel Office (Bundeskartellamt) has announced that it has “initiated a proceeding against Amazon based on the new rules for large digital companies.”

This is second such investigation the watchdog has opened based on the new competition law, and comes after the regulator opened a similar investigation into Facebook in December 2020 over its Oculus virtual reality headsets requiring a Facebook account for new users.

Image credit: Amazon
Image credit: Amazon

Existing investigations

But this investigation launched into Amazon and its market position, comes after the Bundeskartellamt is already currently conducting two other proceedings against Amazon.

However those two previous Amazon investigations are based on “the abuse control rules which were already in place before the latest amendment to the competition law.”

The first investigation examines to what extent Amazon is influencing the pricing of sellers on Amazon Marketplace by means of price control mechanisms and algorithms.

The second investigation examines “to what extent agreements between Amazon and brand manufacturers, including Apple, which exclude third-party sellers from selling brand products on Amazon Marketplace constitute a violation of competition rules.”

New probe

But now a third investigation has begun over whether Amazon has exploited its market dominance.

“In the past few years we have had to deal with Amazon on several occasions and also obtained far-reaching improvements for sellers on Amazon Marketplace,” said Andreas Mundt, president of the Bundeskartellamt.

“Two other proceedings are still ongoing,” said Mundt. “Parallel to these proceedings we are now also applying our extended competences in abuse control. In this particular case we are first of all examining whether Amazon is of paramount significance for competition across markets.”

“An ecosystem which extends across various markets and thus constitutes an almost unchallengeable position of economic power is particularly characteristic in this respect,” said Mundt. “This could apply to Amazon with its online marketplaces and many other, above all digital offers. If we find that the company does have such a market position, we could take early action against and prohibit possible anti-competitive practices by Amazon”.”

An Amazon spokesman meanwhile told the BBC that it did not comment on continuing proceedings and was co-operating fully.