EU sets out to improve fairness of online platforms' trading practices

The European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission have reached a consensus regarding the rules against unfair practices and pro-transparency in online platforms' trading. The new rules cover online platforms like e-commerce markets and search engines if they provide services to EU-based businesses or offer goods or services to EU customers.

The regulations ban such practices as unexplained account suspension, and require clarity from terms and conditions. Moreover, any changes made to the online platform must be communicated at least 14 days before their introduction users have an opportunity to learn them.

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It also requires more transparent rankings so that sellers have a chance to optimise their presence. Moreover, if a platform sells its own goods or services, it will be required to disclose what advantages it gives to its own products.

This is a milestone in Digital Single Market strategy. The regulation is designed to primarily help small and medium businesses who often lack the “bargaining muscle to enter into a dispute with a big platform,” according to Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship, and SMEs.

The European Commission’s study proved it might be a serious issue as “approximately 46% of business users surveyed in a Commission study noted problems in their relationships with such platforms, with 21% experiencing these problems often.”

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