EU Digital Single MarketCommission publishes report on e-commerce

Today, the European Commission presented the final results of its investigation into the EU’s e-commerce sector. It shows that some business practices may prevent consumers from benefiting from greater product choice and lower prices in e-commerce.

The study examined the online sales of consumer goods for almost 1,900 companies and analyzed 8,000 distribution and license contracts regarding digital content. The Commission initiated the sector inquiry in May 2015 as part of its Digital Single Market Strategy.

These are the essential findings:

  • Manufacturers increasingly use contractual restrictions to better control their product distribution. This may include pricing restrictions, limiting the distribution of their products in certain online channels via platform bans or limiting their listing on websites for price comparisons.
  • In 11 percent of the cases, companies prevented their products from being sold abroad to another Member State.
  • 60 percent of the surveyed digital content providers have contractually agreed with right holders to "geo-block". That is, they restrict the cross-border access to their online content services.

Based on the inquiry’s results, the Commission can identify competition concerns in European e-commerce and take action to improve the access for consumers to goods and services in the Digital Single Market.

Monique Goyens, Director General of the European Consumer Organization (BEUC), noted: “The digital single market cannot be a one-way street. Business practices which restrict consumers from choosing the product or service they want to purchase from providers across the EU are incompatible with a single market. Lifting such barriers will be good for consumers and the economy alike.”

Source: European Commission and the European Consumer Organization BEUC

More information, EC press release and the study