BETA


2018/0112(COD) Fairness and transparency for business users of online intermediation services

Progress: Procedure completed, awaiting publication in Official Journal

RoleCommitteeRapporteurShadows
Lead IMCO SCHALDEMOSE Christel (icon: S&D S&D) JUVIN Philippe (icon: PPE PPE), DALTON Daniel (icon: ECR ECR), CHARANZOVÁ Dita (icon: ALDE ALDE), DE JONG Dennis (icon: GUE/NGL GUE/NGL), REDA Julia (icon: Verts/ALE Verts/ALE), ZULLO Marco (icon: EFDD EFDD)
Committee Opinion ITRE ZÁBORSKÁ Anna (icon: PPE PPE)
Committee Opinion TRAN ȚAPARDEL Claudia (icon: S&D S&D)
Committee Opinion JURI ZAMMIT DIMECH Francis (icon: PPE PPE)
Lead committee dossier:
Legal Basis:
TFEU 114

Events

2019/06/20
   CSL - Draft final act
Documents
2019/06/20
   CSL - Final act signed
2019/06/20
   EP - End of procedure in Parliament
2019/06/14
   EP/CSL - Act adopted by Council after Parliament's 1st reading
2019/06/14
   CSL - Council Meeting
2019/04/17
   EP - Decision by Parliament, 1st reading/single reading
Details

The European Parliament adopted by 632 votes to 22, with 3 abstentions, a legislative resolution on promoting fairness and transparency for business users of online intermediation services.

The European Parliament’s position adopted at first reading under the ordinary legislative procedure amended the Commission proposal as follows:

Subject-matter

The purpose of this Regulation is to contribute to the proper functioning of the internal market by laying down rules to ensure that business users of online intermediation services and corporate website users in relation to online search engines are granted appropriate transparency, fairness and effective redress possibilities.

This Regulation shall not apply to online payment services or to online advertising tools or online advertising exchanges, which are not provided with the aim of the facilitating the initiation of direct transactions and which do not involve a contractual relationship with consumers.

Terms and conditions

Providers of online intermediation services shall ensure that their terms and conditions:

- are drafted in plain and intelligible language;

- are easily available to business users at all stages of their commercial relationship with the provider of online intermediation services, including in the pre-contractual stage;

- set out the grounds for decisions to suspend or terminate or impose any other kind of restriction upon, in whole or in part, the provision of their online intermediation services to business users;

- include information on any additional distribution channels and potential affiliate programmes through which providers of online intermediation services might market goods and services offered by business users;

- include general information regarding the effects of the terms and conditions on the ownership and control of intellectual property rights of business users.

Providers of online intermediation services shall notify, on a durable medium, to the business users concerned any proposed changes of their terms and conditions.

The proposed changes shall not be implemented before the expiry of a notice period which is reasonable and proportionate to the nature and extent of the envisaged changes and to their consequences for the business user concerned. That notice period shall be at least 15 days from the date on which the provider of online intermediation services notifies the business users concerned about the proposed changes. Providers of online intermediation services shall grant longer notice periods when this is necessary to allow business users to make technical or commercial adaptations to comply with the changes.

The business user concerned shall have the right to terminate the contract with the provider of online intermediation services before the expiry of the notice period.

In general, submitting new goods or services, including software applications, to the online intermediation services should be considered to be clear affirmative action, resulting in the waiving, by the business user, of the notice period required for changes to the terms and conditions.

However, in cases where the reasonable and proportionate notice period is longer than 15 days because the changes to the terms and conditions require the business user to make significant technical adjustments to its goods or services, the notice period should not be considered to be automatically waived where the business user submits new goods and services.

Restriction, suspension and termination

Where a provider of online intermediation services decides to restrict or suspend the provision of its online intermediation services to a given business user in relation to individual goods or services offered by that business user, it shall provide the business user concerned, prior to or at the time of the restriction or suspension taking effect, with a statement of reasons for that decision on a durable medium.

Where a provider of online intermediation services decides to terminate the provision of the whole of its online intermediation services to a given business user, it shall provide the business user concerned, at least 30 days prior to the termination taking effect.

In the case of restriction, suspension or termination, the provider of online intermediation services shall give the business user the opportunity to clarify the facts and circumstances in the framework of the internal complaint-handling process referred to in Regulation.

Ranking of internet sites

Providers of online intermediation services shall set out in their terms and conditions the main parameters determining ranking and the reasons for the relative importance of those main parameters as opposed to other parameters. Where the main parameters include the possibility to influence ranking against any direct or indirect remuneration paid by business users or corporate website users to the respective provider, that provider shall also set out a description of those possibilities and of the effects of such remuneration on ranking.

Providers of online intermediation services and providers of online search engines shall not be required to disclose algorithms or any information that, with reasonable certainty, would result in the enabling of deception of consumers or consumer harm through the manipulation of search results.

Ancillary goods and services

A new article stipulates that where ancillary goods and services, including financial products, are offered to consumers through the online intermediation services, either by the provider of online intermediation services or by third parties, the provider of online intermediation services shall set out in its terms and conditions a description of the type of ancillary goods and services offered and a description of whether and under which conditions the business user is also allowed to offer its own ancillary goods and services through the online intermediation services.

Judicial proceedings by representative organisations or associations and by public bodies

The decision-making process of associations and bodies shall not be unduly influenced by any third party providers of financing, in particular by providers of online intermediation services or of online search engines. To this end, organisations or associations shall fully and publicly disclose information on their membership and source of financing.

The Commission shall encourage Member States to exchange best practices and information with other Member States, based on registries of unlawful acts which have been subject to injunction orders before national courts, where such registries are set up by relevant public bodies or authorities.

Control

The Commission, in close cooperation with Member States, shall closely monitor the impact of this Regulation on relationships between online intermediation services and their business users and between online search engines and corporate website users. Member States shall assist the Commission by providing, upon request, any relevant information gathered including about specific cases.

The Commission shall encourage the drawing up of codes of conduct by providers of online intermediation services and by organisations and associations representing them, together with business users, including SMEs and their representative organisations.

Documents
2019/04/16
   EP - Debate in Parliament
2019/02/21
   EP - Approval in committee of the text agreed at 1st reading interinstitutional negotiations
2019/01/31
   PT_PARLIAMENT - Reasoned opinion
Documents
2018/12/07
   EP - Committee report tabled for plenary, 1st reading/single reading
Details

The Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection adopted the report by Christel SCHALDEMOSE (S&D, DK) on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on promoting fairness and transparency for business users of online intermediation services.

The Committee on Legal Affairs, exercising its prerogative as an associated committee in accordance with Rule 54 of the Rules of Procedure, also gave its opinion on the report.

The committee recommended that the European Parliament's position adopted at first reading under the ordinary legislative procedure should amend the Commission's proposal.

Subject matter : the proposed Regulation lays down rules to ensure that business users of online intermediation services and corporate website users in relation to online search engines are granted appropriate transparency, fairness , and effective redress possibilities.

Scope : Members stressed that a distinction between business users and non-business users of online intermediation services is important. They proposed that it should not be in the discretion of the provider of an online intermediation service to distinguish whether a user is a business user or a non-business user. Rather, the users of online intermediation services should have the possibility to express whether they are business users or not, and in the case of business users, fulfil their stricter obligations towards consumers.

The proposed Regulation shall not apply to online payment services or to online advertising serving tools or online advertising exchanges which are not provided with the aim of the facilitating the initiation of direct transactions and which do not involve a contractual relationship with consumers .

Terms and conditions : Members called for them to be fair and proportionate and drafted in plain and intelligible language ; in cases where changes to the terms and conditions require the business user to make significant technical adjustments to their goods or services, the notice period should be at least 30 days instead of 15 days.

Providers of online intermediation services shall also ensure that the terms and conditions are easily available at all stages of the contractual relationship, including to prospective business users at the pre-contractual phase .

Suspension and termination : where a provider of online intermediation services decides to apply sanctions, such as suspend, de-list or terminate , in whole or in part, the provision of its online intermediation services to a given business user, it shall inform and provide the business user concerned, without undue delay, with a clear and coherent statement of reasons for that decision.

Ancillary goods and services : the amended text proposed to introduce the d efinition of ‘ancillary goods and services’ to mean goods and services offered to the consumer in addition to and as complementary to the primary good or service offered by the business user through the platform. The purpose is to make sure that wherever goods and services are offered to consumers through platforms, the latter would be obliged to set out in their terms and conditions clearly and visibly to the consumer a description of the services, who provides them and under which terms and conditions.

More transparency on additional channels : providers of online intermediation services shall ensure transparency towards their business users regarding any additional channels and potential affiliate programmes that the online intermediation service may use to markets aid goods or services.

More transparency in the ranking parametres : Members stressed that providers of online intermediation services shall set out in their terms and conditions the parameters determining ranking and the reasons for the relative importance of those parameters. When displaying the results, the online intermediation service shall also disclose close to each ranking whether it has been influenced by differentiated treatment or by any direct or indirect remuneration, contractual or direct ownership relation.

Access to data : p roviders shall adequately inform the public whether in case of a breach of contractual obligations or in case of a market failure by the provider of online intermediation services, business users have the right to access and to retrieve the data, or some categories of data, that they have submitted to the provider.

Providers of online intermediation services shall grant each business user access to anonymised consumer data , in a machine readable commonly used and standardised format. The provider of the online intermediation service shall not for commercial purposes disclose to third parties , including within their corporate structure, data generated by the transactions of a business user without the explicit consent of the business user.

Mediation : p roviders of online intermediation services and business users shall engage in good faith in any attempt to reach an agreement through the mediation of any of the mediators which they identified, with a view to reaching an agreement on the settlement of the dispute .

Liability rules : online intermediation services and not business users shall be held liable for misleading information that business users have given to online intermediation services, if the business users have notified the online intermediation service about the misleading nature of the information provided. Online intermediation services shall also be liable if they are the authors of misleading statements regarding the business users or the goods and services offered by the business users.

The Platform Observatory and review of the regulation : Members considered that since the Platform Observatory shall be tasked with an important role in monitoring the developments in the online platform economy and the application of this regulation, it should be established as a body under this Regulation rather than as an expert group.

Documents
2018/12/06
   EP - Vote in committee, 1st reading/single reading
2018/12/06
   EP - Committee decision to open interinstitutional negotiations with report adopted in committee
2018/11/29
   CSL - Council Meeting
2018/11/27
   EP - Committee opinion
Documents
2018/11/23
   EP - Committee opinion
Documents
2018/11/23
   EP - Committee opinion
Documents
2018/10/17
   FR_SENATE - Contribution
Documents
2018/10/08
   EP - Amendments tabled in committee
Documents
2018/10/08
   EP - Amendments tabled in committee
Documents
2018/10/08
   EP - Amendments tabled in committee
Documents
2018/09/19
   ESC - Economic and Social Committee: opinion, report
Documents
2018/09/13
   EP - Referral to associated committees announced in Parliament
2018/09/10
   EP - Committee draft report
Documents
2018/08/17
   CZ_SENATE - Contribution
Documents
2018/08/10
   EP - Committee Opinion
2018/07/09
   EP - Committee Opinion
2018/07/06
   NL_SENATE - Contribution
Documents
2018/07/02
   PT_PARLIAMENT - Contribution
Documents
2018/06/19
   EP - Responsible Committee
2018/06/14
   CZ_CHAMBER - Contribution
Documents
2018/05/30
   EP - Committee Opinion
2018/05/28
   EP - Committee referral announced in Parliament, 1st reading/single reading
2018/04/26
   EC - Document attached to the procedure
Documents
2018/04/26
   EC - Document attached to the procedure
2018/04/26
   EC - Legislative proposal published
Details

PURPOSE: to establish a fair, predictable, sustainable and trusted online business environment within the internal market.

PROPOSED ACT: Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council.

ROLE OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT: the European Parliament decides in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure and on an equal footing with the Council.

BACKGROUND: online platforms are key enablers of digital trade. At present, more than a million EU enterprises trade through online platforms in order to reach their customers , and it is estimated that around 60% of private consumption and 30% of public consumption of goods and services related to the total digital economy are transacted via online intermediaries.

The growing intermediation of transactions through online intermediation services, fuelled by strong data-driven indirect network effects, lead to an increased dependence of such business users , including micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, on those services in order for them to reach consumers.

The dependence of businesses on certain online services implies that the providers of such online intermediation services have a scope to engage in a number of potentially harmful trading practices which limit business users' sales through them and risk undermining their trust, notably:

unexplained changes in terms and conditions without prior notice; the delisting of goods or services and the suspension of accounts without a clear statement of reasons; lack of transparency related to the ranking of goods and services and of the undertakings offering them; unclear conditions for access to, and use of, data collected by providers.

Furthermore, online general search engines exhibit a dependency-enabled issue, specifically for potentially harmful ranking practices, which may affect business users.

Building on extensive stakeholder consultation, this initiative contributes to the objectives of the digital single market strategy by creating a clear, transparent and stable legal environment for online B2C service providers and their business users, in order to combat market fragmentation and ensure that businesses using online intermediation services have access to redress opportunities throughout the Union.

IMPACT ASSESSMENT: the optimal policy choice aims to provide legally binding transparency and redress obligations on the full range of potentially harmful trading practices identified as part of this initiative, including transparency for the issue of ranking in online general search. The Commission considers that the proposal should be capable of reversing a dampening effect on the online platform economy resulting from a lack of trust of business users amounting to at least between EUR 810 million and EUR 4 billion.

CONTENT: the proposed new Regulation:

lays down obligations for providers of online intermediation services and, in certain respects, online search engines to provide business users and corporate website users, respectively, with appropriate transparency and to offer them certain redress possibilities ; obliges providers of online intermediation services to ensure that their terms and conditions : (i) are drafted in clear and unambiguous language; (ii) are easily available for business users; (iii) set out the objective grounds for decisions to suspend or terminate, in whole or in part, the provision of their online intermediation services to business users; establishes requirements for a statement of reasons from a provider of online intermediation services if it suspends or terminates the use by a business user of its intermediation services; establishes requirements for a description of the main parameters determining ranking of business users in search results, including a description where ranking is influenced by the business user giving direct or indirect remuneration to them, in the terms and conditions used by providers of online intermediation services; establishes a requirement to include a description of the access to personal data or other data which business users or consumers provide to online intermediation services or which are generated through those services, in the standard terms and conditions used by providers of online intermediation services; establishes a requirement for providers of online intermediation services to list in their terms and conditions one or more mediators with which the provider is willing to engage to reach an agreement out of court on a dispute, for instance where an issue has not been resolved by the internal complaint handling system ; establishes a requirement for the Commission to encourage providers of online intermediation services to individually or jointly set up one or more independent mediator organisations to facilitate the settlement, out of court, of disputes that arise in the course of online intermediation services, particularly given their cross-border nature; establishes a right for judicial proceedings to be brought by representative organisations , associations or public bodies to stop or prohibit any non-compliance by providers of online intermediation services with the requirements contained in the Regulation.

2018/02/20
   CSL - Coreper letter confirming interinstitutional agreement

Documents

Activities

Votes

A8-0444/2018 - Christel Schaldemose - Am 142 17/04/2019 12:55:43.000

2019/04/17 Outcome: +: 632, -: 22, 0: 3
DE FR IT ES PL GB RO BE CZ PT NL HU SE AT BG FI HR DK EL SK IE LT LV SI LU MT EE CY
Total
92
71
55
49
47
56
28
21
21
19
26
18
17
17
14
11
11
11
13
10
9
8
8
8
6
6
4
1
icon: PPE PPE
188

United Kingdom PPE

2

Denmark PPE

For (1)

1

Greece PPE

1

Lithuania PPE

2

Luxembourg PPE

3

Estonia PPE

For (1)

1
icon: S&D S&D
169

Netherlands S&D

3

Croatia S&D

2

Greece S&D

1
3

Latvia S&D

1

Slovenia S&D

For (1)

1

Luxembourg S&D

For (1)

1

Malta S&D

3

Estonia S&D

For (1)

1
icon: ECR ECR
66

Romania ECR

2

Czechia ECR

2

Netherlands ECR

2

Sweden ECR

2

Bulgaria ECR

2

Finland ECR

1

Croatia ECR

For (1)

1

Greece ECR

For (1)

1

Slovakia ECR

1

Lithuania ECR

1

Latvia ECR

For (1)

1
icon: ALDE ALDE
60

Italy ALDE

For (1)

1

Romania ALDE

3

Portugal ALDE

1

Sweden ALDE

2

Austria ALDE

For (1)

1

Bulgaria ALDE

3

Croatia ALDE

2

Denmark ALDE

2

Ireland ALDE

For (1)

1

Lithuania ALDE

2

Latvia ALDE

1

Slovenia ALDE

For (1)

1

Luxembourg ALDE

For (1)

1

Estonia ALDE

For (1)

1
icon: Verts/ALE Verts/ALE
50

Italy Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

United Kingdom Verts/ALE

5

Belgium Verts/ALE

2

Netherlands Verts/ALE

2

Hungary Verts/ALE

2

Sweden Verts/ALE

3

Austria Verts/ALE

3

Finland Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Croatia Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Denmark Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Lithuania Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Latvia Verts/ALE

1

Slovenia Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Luxembourg Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Estonia Verts/ALE

For (1)

1
icon: GUE/NGL GUE/NGL
46

Italy GUE/NGL

2

United Kingdom GUE/NGL

1

Netherlands GUE/NGL

3

Sweden GUE/NGL

For (1)

1

Denmark GUE/NGL

For (1)

1

Cyprus GUE/NGL

1
icon: ENF ENF
33

Germany ENF

Against (1)

1

Poland ENF

2

United Kingdom ENF

2

Belgium ENF

For (1)

1

Netherlands ENF

4
icon: NI NI
15

Germany NI

2

Poland NI

Against (1)

2
icon: EFDD EFDD
30

Germany EFDD

Against (1)

1

Czechia EFDD

Against (1)

1

A8-0444/2018 - Christel Schaldemose - Am 142

2019/04/17 Outcome: +: 632, -: 22, 0: 3
DE FR IT ES PL GB RO BE CZ PT NL HU AT SE BG FI HR DK EL SK IE LT LV SI LU MT EE CY
Total
92
71
55
47
47
56
28
21
21
19
26
18
17
16
14
11
11
11
13
10
9
8
8
8
6
6
4
1
icon: PPE PPE
188

United Kingdom PPE

2

Denmark PPE

For (1)

1

Greece PPE

1

Lithuania PPE

2

Luxembourg PPE

3

Estonia PPE

For (1)

1
icon: S&D S&D
169

Netherlands S&D

3

Croatia S&D

2

Greece S&D

1
3

Latvia S&D

1

Slovenia S&D

For (1)

1

Luxembourg S&D

For (1)

1

Malta S&D

3

Estonia S&D

For (1)

1
icon: ECR ECR
66

Romania ECR

2

Czechia ECR

2

Netherlands ECR

2

Sweden ECR

2

Bulgaria ECR

2

Finland ECR

1

Croatia ECR

For (1)

1

Greece ECR

For (1)

1

Slovakia ECR

1

Lithuania ECR

1

Latvia ECR

For (1)

1
icon: ALDE ALDE
59

Italy ALDE

For (1)

1

Romania ALDE

3

Portugal ALDE

1

Austria ALDE

For (1)

1

Sweden ALDE

2

Bulgaria ALDE

3

Croatia ALDE

2

Denmark ALDE

2

Ireland ALDE

For (1)

1

Lithuania ALDE

2

Latvia ALDE

1

Slovenia ALDE

For (1)

1

Luxembourg ALDE

For (1)

1

Estonia ALDE

For (1)

1
icon: Verts/ALE Verts/ALE
48

Italy Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

United Kingdom Verts/ALE

5

Belgium Verts/ALE

2

Netherlands Verts/ALE

2

Hungary Verts/ALE

2

Austria Verts/ALE

3

Sweden Verts/ALE

2

Finland Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Croatia Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Denmark Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Lithuania Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Latvia Verts/ALE

1

Slovenia Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Luxembourg Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Estonia Verts/ALE

For (1)

1
icon: GUE/NGL GUE/NGL
46

Italy GUE/NGL

2

United Kingdom GUE/NGL

1

Netherlands GUE/NGL

3

Sweden GUE/NGL

For (1)

1

Denmark GUE/NGL

For (1)

1

Cyprus GUE/NGL

1
icon: ENF ENF
33

Germany ENF

Against (1)

1

Poland ENF

2

United Kingdom ENF

2

Belgium ENF

For (1)

1

Netherlands ENF

4
icon: NI NI
15

Germany NI

2

Poland NI

Against (1)

2
icon: EFDD EFDD
30

Germany EFDD

Against (1)

1

Czechia EFDD

Against (1)

1
AmendmentsDossier
1440 2018/0112(COD)
2018/09/27 ITRE 307 amendments...
source: 627.905
2018/10/08 IMCO 681 amendments...