The charges, filed two years after the bloc’s antitrust enforcer began looking into the company, are the latest effort by European regulators to curb the power of big technology companies. Margrethe Vestager, the EU commissioner in charge of competition issues, has slapped Google with antitrust fines totaling nearly $10 billion and opened twin antitrust investigations this summer into Apple. The EU’s executive Commission also opened a second investigation Tuesday into whether Amazon favors product offers and merchants that use its own logistics and delivery system.
While the U.S. initially criticized the EU for targeting American companies, it has more recently started taking a tougher line on big tech as well, suing Google this year for abusing its dominance in online search and advertising.
The EU investigation found that Amazon is accessing and analyzing real-time data from other vendors that sell goods on its platform to help it decide which new products of its own to launch and how to price and market them. That “appears to distort genuine competition,” Vestager said.
Investigators focused on that practice in France and Germany, the company’s two biggest markets in the EU, but Vestager didn’t give specific examples of merchants affected by Amazon’s behavior.
The stakes have risen for retailers as many European countries have shut nonessential shops temporarily to try to contain the coronavirus pandemic, pushing more shopping online, where Amazon is a major presence.
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