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Awaiting committee decision



2017/2207(INI) E-commerce sector inquiry
RoleCommitteeRapporteurShadows
Opinion CULT
Opinion EMPL
Lead IMCO
Opinion INTA
Opinion ITRE
Opinion JURI
Lead committee dossier: IMCO/8/11131
Legal Basis RoP 052

Activites

  • 2017/10/05 Committee referral announced in Parliament, 1st reading/single reading
  • 2017/05/10 Non-legislative basic document published
    • COM(2017)0229 summary
    • DG {'url': 'http://ec.europa.eu/info/departments/financial-stability-financial-services-and-capital-markets-union_en', 'title': 'Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union'}, MOSCOVICI Pierre

Documents

History

(these mark the time of scraping, not the official date of the change)

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DG
Commissioner
MOSCOVICI Pierre
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EC
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MOSCOVICI Pierre
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  • PURPOSE: to present the Commission’s final report on the e-commerce sector inquiry.

    BACKGROUND: the Commission launched a sector inquiry into the electronic commerce in May 2015 as part of its strategy for a digital single market, one of the pillars of which is to guarantee consumers and businesses better access to goods and services thanks to e-commerce in the EU.

    The objective of the inquiry was to enable the Commission to identify potential competition problems in European e-commerce markets.

    During the course of the inquiry, the Commission collected data from many stakeholders (retailers, price comparison tool providers, payment system providers, manufacturers, digital content providers, large groups and hosting operators) from the 28 Member States.

    On 15 September 2016, the Commission published a Preliminary Report on the initial findings of the e-commerce sector inquiry. It was followed by a public consultation open to all interested stakeholders.

    CONTENT: the main conclusions of the final report are as follows:

    1) Consumer goods: the e-commerce sector inquiry covered the product categories most sold online: clothing and shoes; consumer electronics; electrical household appliances; computer games and software; toys and childcare articles; media (books, CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs); cosmetics and healthcare products; sports and outdoor equipment, and house and garden products. The results of the e-commerce sector inquiry confirm that the growth of e-commerce over the last decade had a significant impact on companies’ distribution strategies and customer behaviour.

    The final report confirms that the growth of e-commerce over the past decade, in particular price transparency and online price competition, has had a significant effect on business distribution strategies and the behaviour of customers. It also identifies business practices that may restrict competition.

    The main changes in the market over the last ten years are as follows:

    • in response to the growth of e-commerce, a large proportion of manufacturers decided in the course of the last ten years and in reaction to the growth of e-commerce, to sell their products directly to customers through online retail shops, thereby competing increasingly with their own independent distributors;
    • manufacturers acknowledge that they are increasingly using ‘selective distribution’ systems, whereby they set the criteria that retailers must meet to become part of the distribution network and where all sales to unauthorised retailers are prohibited;
    • an increased recourse to vertical restraints that allow for a greater control over the distribution of products: such as pricing restrictions, marketplace (platform) bans, restrictions on the use of price comparison tools and the exclusion of pure online players from distribution networks.

    2) Digital content: the inquiry focused on the online provisions of audio-visual and musical products.

    The results of the survey confirm that the availability of digital copyright owners' licenses is essential for digital content providers and a key competitive factor in the marketplace. Rights licensing is often based on exclusivity, because access to exclusive content enhances the attractiveness of digital content providers. The Commission considers that the use of exclusivity is not itself problematic.

    The main competition concerns identified relate to certain contractual restrictions in license agreements:

    • rights holders tend to divide rights into several elements and grant them in whole or in part to different content providers in different Member States;
    • online rights are to a large extent licensed on a national basis or for the territory of a limited number of Member States which share a common language. This is particularly prevalent in relation to content types that may contain premium products, such as sport (60 %), films (60 %) and fiction TV (56 %);
    • the vast majority of digital content providers (68 %) restrict access to their online digital content services from other Member States, and 59 % of them do so because of contractual restrictions in the agreements with right holders. Geo-blocking is most prevalent in agreements for TV series (74 %), films (66 %) and sport events (63 %);
    • long contract durations are common (more than 3 years or even more than 5 years). Contractual relationships tend to last even longer, with average durations of more than 10 or even 20 years, possibly as a result of clauses favouring their extension;
    • lastly, certain licensing practices which may make it more difficult for new online business models and services to emerge.

    In conclusion, the Commission considers it important to avoid any divergent interpretations of the EU competition rules with regard to business practices in e-commerce, as this could create serious obstacles for companies to being active, in a compliant manner, in multiple Member States, to the detriment of a Digital Single Market.

    The results of the e-commerce sector inquiry confirm that there is no need to anticipate the review of the current Vertical Block Exemption Regulation (‘VBER’) which will expire in May 2022.

    In the light of the results of the e-commerce sector inquiry, the Commission will therefore:

    • target enforcement of the EU competition rules at the most widespread business practices that have emerged or evolved as a result of the growth of e-commerce and that may negatively impact competition and cross-border trade and hence the functioning of a Digital Single Market;
    • broaden the dialogue with national competition authorities within the European competition network on e-commerce-related enforcement to contribute to a consistent application of the EU competition rules as regards e-commerce-related business practices.
activities
  • date
    2017-05-10T00:00:00
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    • url
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      COM(2017)0229
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      Non-legislative basic document published
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    links
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      procedure
      dossier_of_the_committee
      IMCO/8/11131
      reference
      2017/2207(INI)
      title
      E-commerce sector inquiry
      legal_basis
      • Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament EP 052
      stage_reached
      Awaiting committee decision
      subtype
      Initiative
      type
      INI - Own-initiative procedure
      subject
      • 3.45.05 Business policy, electronic commerce, after-sales service, commercial distribution