Competition law and the online sector
Competition law and the online sector

The following Commercial guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Competition law and the online sector
  • The DSM Strategy
  • The e-commerce sector inquiry
  • The Commission’s enforcement actions post e-commerce sector inquiry
  • Online platforms in the Commission’s focus—Google and Amazon (Article 102 TFEU)
  • Commission’s 2019 report on ‘Competition policy for the digital era’
  • Noteworthy NCA enforcement action in the online sector

Competition law interacts with the online sector in a number of ways, including the European Commission’s Digital Single Market strategy and the related e-commerce sector inquiry. Enforcement action has also been taken in relation to e-commerce by the Commission and national competition authorities. There are a number of ongoing competition concerns in relation to e-commerce and the online sector, including geo-blocking, platform bans and resale price maintenance (RPM).

The growing economic importance of the online sector has brought it into the focus of competition authorities around the world. In Europe, the European Commission’s Digital Single Market Strategy (DSM Strategy), which was announced in 2015, includes plans to create a secure and unrestricted digital single market in which consumers are free to shop online across borders, and businesses can sell across the EU irrespective of their location. Notable milestones within the DSM Strategy have been achieved: roaming charges were abolished in June 2017, EU consumers are able to travel cross-border with the films, music, video games and e-books they have subscribed to in their home Member State, and the Commission’s sector inquiry into the e-commerce of consumer goods and digital content has been concluded.

In parallel, the Commission has conducted investigations into anti-competitive practices identified during the e-commerce sector inquiry—unjustified geo-blocking/geo-filtering and resale price maintenance (RPM) being examples. At the same time, Member State