Germany Applies New Competition Rules In Amazon Probes

German Cartel Office applies broader antitrust rules in two Amazon probes after formally designating company a key player

The German competition regulator said on Monday it was using new regulations to expand probes into e-commerce giant Amazon.

Both probes involve third-party sellers on Amazon’s platform, said the Federal Cartel Office.

“We are examining in both proceedings whether and how Amazon impedes the business opportunities of sellers that are active on the Amazon marketplace and compete with Amazon’s own retail business,” said FCO president Andreas Mundt.

Image credit: Amazon, antitrust, competition
Image credit: Amazon

New rules

Antitrust laws that came into effect in Germany last year give the FCO more power to identify and prohibit anti-competitive activities for firms that have been identified as holding key market roles.

The FCO said it had identified Amazon as operating the most important e-commerce marketplace, giving it the power to set rules in its market.

“Our new competencies, which are precisely intended to restrict such power to set rules, allow us to intervene more efficiently against Amazon’s anti-competitive practices,” Mundt said.

The FCO had been testing Amazon’s market power since May 2021.

‘Paramount significance’

In December 2021 it designated Google as one of the companes having “paramount significance for competition across markets” under the new rules, and used the designation to open probes into Google’s News Showcase licensing practices, its terms for data processing and the terms governing Google Maps.

Facebook parent Meta received the same designation in May.

The EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), set to come into force early next year, similarly targets digital “gatekeeper” firms.