Amazon saw profits slip in its latest earningsSEBASTIEN BOZON
The competition policeman in Italy on Tuesday imposed a fine of 200 million euros on Apple and Amazon for infringement of competition rules by restricting access to the Amazon platform of certain resellers of Apple products.
This fine comes at a time when the countries of the European Union have increased financial sanctions against the American and Chinese digital giants in recent months, in an effort to better regulate their activities.
The Italian Antitrust “imposed a sanction of 68.7 million euros on companies of the Amazon group and a sanction of 134.5 million euros on companies of the Apple group,” said a statement.
The investigation opened by the Italian authority “made it possible to establish that certain clauses of the contract signed on October 31, 2018 prohibiting official and unofficial resellers of Apple and Beats products from using the Amazon.it platform and allowing the selling Apple and Beats products in this market only to Amazon and to certain sellers individually and in a discriminatory manner violates Article 101 of the Treaty of Operation of the EU “.
According to the Italian gendarme, the investigation also made it possible to establish “the will” of the two companies “to introduce purely quantitative restrictions on the number of resellers” in order to increase their earnings.
This behavior is all the more serious in the eyes of the Italian Antitrust as Amazon “represents the electronic commerce site where at least 70% of purchases of consumer electronics products are made in Italy”.
The Italian regulator recalls that the case law of the Court of Justice of the EU establishes that “distribution systems, to be compatible with competition rules, must be based on criteria of a qualitative, non-discriminatory nature and apply equally to all potential resellers “.
This investigation will also have served as a model “for the national competition authorities in Germany and Spain who have also launched similar procedures”, assures the Italian competition policeman.
– “Too bad for consumers” –
The Codacons consumer association immediately welcomed this fine from the stock market constable.
“Any limitation of access to operators on electronic commerce platforms represents a damage for consumers”, declared Carlo Rienzi, president of Codacons, quoted by the agency AGI.
In this specific case, “the restrictions imposed on sellers of Apple products on the one hand limited the choice for buyers and on the other hand reduced the possibility of obtaining discounts,” according to the same source.
The Italian gendarme of competition is used to this kind of financial sanctions. In May, he imposed a fine of 102 million euros on Google for abuse of a dominant position.
This fine was justified by the refusal of the internet giant to accept on its Google Play platform a third-party application to find charging stations for electric cars, then explained the Italian Antitrust.
Italy is not the only country to take a close look at the behavior of these big tech companies which dominate the world market.
The American competition authority (FTC) and many American states have thus launched investigations and prosecutions against Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, the famous GAFA, which they accuse of abusing a dominant position in their various markets. , from social networks to digital advertising to e-commerce.
Amazon largely dominates the cloud, but it is above all its e-commerce platform that makes people cringe. The firm is both judge and party: it sets the rules and markets its own products.