Restrictions on online sales in the spotlight

The European Commission publishes final report on the e-commerce sector inquiry.

On 10 May 2017, the European Commission published its much anticipated Final Report on the e-commerce sector inquiry that was launched in May 2015. Over the past two years, the Commission has obtained input from no fewer than 1,740 companies active in the e-commerce sector and has reviewed over 8,000 agreements.

The inquiry has not only provided the Commission with a detailed understanding of the sector, it has also prompted a proposal for a regulation on geo-blocking, and the launch of three investigations. Moreover, it is reported that several international companies have reacted by adapting their commercial practices in light of the inquiry. 

The Final Report found that the significant growth in e-commerce has given rise to certain types of restrictions, designed to give suppliers (of goods or digital content) greater control over the price and quality of their products. Although the Final Report does not take a formal position as to the legality of most of the business practices identified, it clearly states that the Commission will continue to target its competition enforcement at certain e-commerce practices that may negatively affect competition or cross-border trade.

Companies should, therefore, carefully review their business practices and consider modifications where necessary. 

Read our summary report on the e-commerce sector inquiry.