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EU launches antitrust probe into e-commerce sector

Loek Essers | May 8, 2015
Europe's e-commerce market will be subject to a full-fledged antitrust probe, as part of the European Commission's push to tear down walls between the European Union's 28 national digital markets.

This means that the probe will come on top of the Commission's existing antitrust investigation into Google's search services. In April it filed antitrust charges against Google, accusing the company of abusing its dominant position in Internet search services in Europe by systematically favoring its own comparison shopping product. At the same time, it started an antitrust investigation into the bundling of Google apps with the Android mobile OS.

The Commission's digital strategy is meant to lay the groundwork for the future of Europe's digital economy, and as such also includes plans for giving European startups a better chance to grow, and developing pan-continental telecommunications networks.

It also includes a push to reform copyright rules. Before the end of 2015, the Commission will propose ways to reduce the differences between national copyright regimes and allow for wider online access to works across the EU. As part of the reform, people who buy films, music or articles online at home should be able to access to them from other countries. At the same time, enforcement against commercial-scale infringements of intellectual property rights will be stepped up.

Plans should be more concrete by the end of 2016 and will need backing from the European Parliament and the Council of the EU to become reality.

 

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