EU rules on online marketplaces are 'step forward', says BA

EU rules on online marketplaces are 'step forward', says BA

The Booksellers Association (BA) says new EU rules to improve the fairness of online trading platforms like Amazon’s Marketplace are a “step in the right direction”.

EU negotiators agreed this month to set up the first-ever rules to help traders and businesses benefit from a more predictable and transparent trading environment online. They apply to all online marketplaces, alongside hotel-booking platforms and app developers.

The rules, which still need to be approved by the European Parliament, include marketplaces and search engines having to reveal the main parameters they use to rank services on their site. They also mean digital platforms cannot suspend or terminate seller accounts without clear reasons and the possibility of appeal.

Terms and conditions must be made clear, a complaints-handling system must be set-up internally and trade associations will also be able to take platforms to court to stop non-compliance with the rules.

BA m.d. Meryl Halls said: “The new rules, when approved, will benefit our members who use Amazon’s MarketPlace. Transparency will be improved; digital platforms will no longer be able to suspend or terminate a seller's account without clear reasons; and there will now be appeal possibilities for sellers. Most importantly, any terms and conditions imposed by Amazon on sellers must be easily available, provided in plain language and any changes given with at least 15 days’ prior notice.  It’s also good to see that all platforms must set up an internal complaint-handling system to assist business users”. 

If agreed by the parliament, the rules will be subject to review 18 months after their adoption. The EU has set up an online platform observatory to monitor the market and rules.

The Bookseller has contacted Amazon for a comment.