EU readies Amazon antitrust settlement

The European Commission provisionally approved an antitrust settlement with Amazon Thursday, a deal set to end two of the bloc’s most high-profile digital competition cases without any fines.

Amazon had been probed over concerns that it could misuse its privileged access to non-public seller data and unfairly choose which products to include in its ‘Buy Box’ by preferencing sellers part of the Prime program.   

The Commission is now seeking views by September 9 in a market test of commitments that aim to address those issues. These include an agreement for Amazon to refrain from using non-public seller data for its competing retail business as well as implementing a secondary ‘Buy Box’ that displays alternative sales options for consumers.

Amazon and Commission plans to settle the case were earlier reported by POLITICO. If the Commission gets favorable feedback from Amazon’s smaller rivals and business customers, it can proceed to making the pledge legally binding for five years. A company can be fined if it breaches its commitments.

The EU pact excludes Italy, where the competition authority imposed separate remedies last year.

The settlement could set the standard for the European Union’s Digital Markets Act when it comes into force later this year. One of the obligations prohibits gatekeepers from using the non-public data of business users to compete against them — a red line influenced by the Commission’s original concerns with Amazon’s alleged conduct.  

Amazon has “serious concerns about the Digital Markets Act unfairly targeting Amazon and a few other U.S. companies,” it said in an emailed statement. It said it disagreed with several conclusions the Commission made but had still “engaged constructively with the Commission to address their concerns and preserve our ability to serve European customers.”