BA welcomes EC move on unfair online trading practices

BA welcomes EC move on unfair online trading practices

The Booksellers Association (BA) has welcomed the European Commission’s (EC) promise to take a closer look at the unfair trading practices in platform-to-business relationships.

Reported last week, the EC is considering a new law to deal with unfair trading practices after deciding further action is necessary to promote fairness and responsibility of online platforms.

The initiative was revealed as part of a mid-term review of the Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy, launched in 2015. It emphasises the need for an environment "where all players can operate under fair and balanced conditions" and follows its decision earlier this month to hold Amazon to its promise to remove "Most Favoured Nation" (MFN) clauses from its e-book distribution contracts with publishers for the next five years, with the commitment now legally binding.

Tim Godfray, chief executive of the BA, said: “We welcome the announcement that the European Commission has promised to take a closer look at unfair trading practices in platform-to-business relationships. Unfair contractual clauses and trading practices were identified by the BA when we submitted a formal complaint to the European Commission on Amazon in June 2015. Certain matters, such as its MFN clauses, have been shown to be in breach of Competition Law.”

However, the BA said it would also like competition authorities both in Brussels and the UK to look at the other issues contained in its complaint around a breach of competition law, which The Bookseller understands involves the sale of print books on Amazon.

“Whilst we are pleased that action will now follow in this particular area, we would remind the Competition Authorities, both in Brussels and the UK, that the formal complaint submitted by the BA in June 2015 contains other items related to breach of Competition Law,” Godfray said. “As with this example, we are confident that our allegations would be substantiated, and we are pleased that the Commission has announced this further initiative.”