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IMCO Meeting on Fairness and Transparency in Online Business

Updated: May 14, 2019

On the 5 November 2018, the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) met for the consideration of the amendments on promoting fairness and transparency for business users of online intermediation services. These amendments are very pertinent to online businesses, as if even some of the amendments are eventually not taken on board by the Parliament, serious implications for online business will occur.

For further information on the amendments click here.

Currently there are ca. 740 amendments that have been tabled to the original report published in September. However, the text of the report and the amendments are still divisive. A few critical amendments under consideration include the ambiguity on ranking (several solutions have been presented without agreement), should operating platforms be included in the final legislation or not, and should platforms be able to send data to third parties or not, and if yes, under what conditions.

Key Party Views:

  • According to the European People’s Party (EPP), the largest party in the EP, operating systems are essential for the good functioning, or in other words, they are preconditions therefore are to be regulated. However, the European Conservatives oppose this idea. The EPP is also concerned about the wording of the text when it comes to the black list of banned practices, as it is viewed that there is no need to forbid technical evolutions. Measures should instead allow companies to trade freely without the fear of unfair trading practices, and that this should be in the Annex and regularly updated.

  • The ECR stands for any B2B regulatory intervention to be strongly necessary before acting, and that transparency cannot underline business secrets. Platforms should be able to take down content, as such B2B platforms are first of all private businesses and not public service platforms. Also, they believe that the proposed “mandatory mediation” is not compatible with national business, as well as being too costly.

  • The Liberals voiced that they cannot support the majority of the amendments as they stand currently, as they are too political and very little business friendly. Their main claim is that the EU law should not apply to all B2B websites in the world. The idea of a “Platform Observatory” and the Commission proposal is good, and no EU-wide regulation of e-commerce should come into force at the end of the day.

  • The Greens argued that operating systems should be directly linked to the platforms before being regulated, as there are many offline B2B operating systems.

An informal trilogue meeting – which is the next step of the EU legislative process – between Commission, Parliament and Council is expected to occur before the end of the year.



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