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Europe

Retail giant Amazon agrees reforms to close two EU investigations

Retail juggernaut Amazon has convinced Brussels to close two investigations into suspicions of anti-competitive behaviour.

It agreed to give rival sellers’ products equal visibility in its “buy box”, a prominent part of Amazon’s website that drives sales.

Amazon said it would stop using non-public data from independent sellers’ activities for its own business.

The US firm also committed to allowing independent sellers to choose any carrier for logistics and delivery, agreeing not to use information received from its Prime service about other carriers for its own logistics services.

It will have to implement these commitments within six months.

The European Commission opened an investigation into Amazon’s use of non-public data of sellers in 2019 and opened a second investigation into whether the e-commerce site’s “buy box” and Prime programme favoured its own retail business the following year.

The EU executive said on Tuesday that the new commitments from Amazon, which include several amendments, will ensure it does not “use marketplace seller data for its own retail operations and that it grants non-discriminatory access to Buy Box and Prime”.

The changes also include increasing transparency and information flows for sellers, improving the presentation of competing Buy Box offers and introducing a centralised complaint mechanism open to all sellers, the European Commission said.

EU executive vice-president and competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said those commitments would now be legally binding under EU competition rules.

She said the EU had received feedback from consumer organisations, sellers and academics on Amazon’s commitments over the summer and asked the company to improve them.

“Amazon then offered improved remedies. Today’s decision makes them binding on Amazon,” Vestager said.

In a statement sent to Euronews, an Amazon spokesperson said that they were “pleased to have addressed the concerns of the European Commission and to have resolved these issues”.

The company said that it still disagreed with several of the European Commission’s preliminary conclusions, but wanted to “preserve” its ability to serve customers.

They added that more than 225,000 small and medium-sized businesses in Europe sell on Amazon.

Amazon also faces a more than €1 billion lawsuit in the United Kingdom for favouring its own products in the “buy box”, according to Reuters.

It followed an announcement from the UK’s antitrust watchdog that it would investigate “anti-competitive practices” in Amazon’s marketplace.

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