Amazon agrees to deal with EU to end long-running data investigations

Amazon has finalized a deal with European Union antitrust regulators to settle concerns that its use of non-public data undercuts competitors, announcing new measures to level the playing field for sellers in its marketplace.

With the agreement announced Tuesday, the US tech giant will treat all sellers equally and make competing products more visible on Amazon’s “buy box,” which generates the majority of purchases on the site.

Amazon will also create a second buy box that will feature alternative offerings for consumers who decide speed of delivery is less important to them.

The deal ends two long-running investigations into the $866 billion company and represents a victory for the European Union because it will serve as a blueprint for compliance with the new Digital Markets Act, landmark legislation intended to limit the power of big tech companies.

“Amazon can no longer abuse its dual role and will have to change many business practices,” said Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s head of competition. “Competing independent retailers and carriers as well as consumers will benefit from these changes, which open up new opportunities and options.”

The agreement will change many of Amazon’s longstanding business practices. Sellers who use the Amazon Prime membership system will also be able to choose any logistics company and negotiate their contracts directly instead of being restricted to using Amazon logistics.

These commitments are legally binding, will remain in place for between five and seven years, and were agreed upon with EU officials after nearly three years of investigation.

By introducing these measures, Amazon avoided formal charges of breaching EU law and a possible fine of up to 10 percent of global revenue.

If Amazon breaches the obligations, the commission can impose that fine without having to find a violation of antitrust rules. Alternatively, regulators could levy a rolling fine of 5 percent per day of Amazon’s daily turnover for each day of non-compliance.

“We are pleased to have addressed the European Commission’s concerns and resolved these issues,” Amazon said.

The company added that it did not agree with many of the preliminary conclusions reached by the European Commission and had engaged constructively to ensure it continued to serve customers across Europe.

Under the Digital Markets Act, which took effect in November, the legislation requires large platforms to treat data equally. Self-preferential treatment is prohibited, such as when a company prioritizes its products in searches above competitors in its online marketplace.

Facebook owner Meta received a complaint from the European Union’s antitrust watchdog on Monday over concerns that the social network’s classifieds service is unfair to competitors.

By automatically giving its users access to Facebook Marketplace, the network’s platform for buying and selling goods, the European Commission said, the social network has a “significant distribution advantage that competitors cannot match”.

Meta said the allegations were baseless and she would work with the authorities to challenge them.

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