The European Union has struck a deal with Amazon that will resolve multiple antitrust investigations into the company and impose binding restrictions on the e-commerce giant’s business, in another major step by EU officials to rein in Big Tech.
The agreement includes several multi-year concessions offered by Amazon, including a commitment not to use third-party sellers’ data to benefit Amazon’s own marketplace listings, a practice that policymakers around the world have claimed is anticompetitive.
As part of the deal, Amazon said it will treat all sellers on its platform equally when determining which seller to give top placement on Amazon product listings, and also agreed to several commitments linked to sellers’ terms under Amazon Prime. Those commitments will last for seven years, while the restrictions on Amazon’s use of seller data will last for five years.
Violations of the commitments could lead to stiff fines against Amazon totaling as much as 10% of its annual global revenue, according to the European Commission.
“Today’s decision sets new rules for how Amazon operates its business in Europe,” said EU Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager in a release. “Amazon can no longer abuse its dual role and will have to change several business practices. They cover the use of data, the selection of sellers in the Buy Box and the conditions of access to the Amazon Prime Program. Competing independent retailers and carriers as well as consumers will benefit from these changes, opening up new opportunities and choice.”
The agreement comes as EU officials prepare to begin implementing the Digital Markets Act, a landmark competition law that’s expected to shape the behavior of tech giants and other so-called “gatekeeper” companies in Europe — and potentially beyond.
Europe has widely been viewed as a frontrunner on tech regulation in contrast to the United States, where attempts to pass antitrust legislation have largely stalled and antitrust enforcers have had to battle tech giants in complex, lengthy court cases.
Amazon said in a statement it was pleased to have resolved the EU matter but continued to disagree with some of the European Commission’s initial competitive concerns.
“We have engaged constructively to ensure that we can continue to serve customers across Europe and support the 225,000 European small and medium sized businesses selling through our stores,” a company spokesperson said.