In a win for the EU, Amazon will settle high-level antitrust investigations

Amazon has reached a final settlement with EU antitrust regulators over its use of data-mining rivals, in a decision that will end two of the most high-profile investigations in Brussels.

The US e-commerce group has promised to increase the visibility of competing products by giving them equal treatment on Amazon’s “buy box”, which generates the majority of purchases on the site. This will also create a highlighted alternative offer for buyers for whom delivery speed is less important.

The European Commission plans to announce the deal on Dec. 20, according to four people with direct knowledge of the timeline. However, they warned that the date could still change at the last minute.

The commitments, which are expected to remain in place for five years, have been “market tested” with rivals and agreed with EU officials, the people said. “There is very little to discuss,” said a person familiar with the process.

The move represents a win for the EU as it will serve as a model for the tech group’s compliance with the new Digital Markets Act, legislation aimed at curbing the power of Big Tech.

It also means Amazon will avoid formal charges of breaching EU law and a hefty fine of up to 10% of global turnover.

The DMA is the first major overhaul of the rules for technology groups in more than two decades. It imposes new obligations on major online platforms to treat data equally, and bans what is known as self-preference, whereby a company ranks its products ahead of competitors in its own market.

Amazon’s deal with Brussels comes three years after European regulators launched an investigation into the group’s alleged anti-competitive practices in the way it handles competitor data.

As part of the settlement, Amazon will allow sellers using its Prime membership program to choose any logistics company and negotiate terms directly, rather than being required to use Amazon’s logistics services.

The agreement provides a first glimpse of how global technology companies will comply with new EU legislation.

Chris Meyers, Amazon’s associate general counsel, told a conference call on Monday that the commitments were consistent with how the group planned to comply with the new rules from Brussels.

“The specific commitment that we have proposed, which we believe also meets the DMA’s obligations, is really the approach that we will take under the DMA,” he said.

Amazon declined to comment Tuesday, but pointed to an earlier statement from the company, which read: “While we have serious concerns that the DMA is unfairly targeting Amazon … we have engaged constructively with the commission.”

The commission declined to comment.

© 2022 Financial Times Ltd. All rights reserved. May not be redistributed, copied or modified in any way.

Leave a Comment