Germany’s antitrust watchdog launches Amazon investigation

The German Federal Cartel Office has announced the initiation of proceedings against Amazon based on new rules for BigTech companies.

The antitrust watchdog said that it is examining whether Amazon is of “paramount significance for competition across markets.”

In January 2021 the 10th amendment to the German Competition Act (GWB Digitalisation Act) came into force. The provision now enables the authority to intervene earlier and more effectively, in particular against the practices of large digital companies.

The investigation is the second proceeding that the Federal Cartel Office has opened based on the new competition law tool.

A similar proceeding was initiated against Facebook shortly after the amendment to the law entered into force.

President of the Federal Cartel Office Andreas Mundt said that the organisation still has two other ongoing proceedings associated with the e-commerce giant.

“Parallel to these proceedings we are now also applying our extended competences in abuse control,” explained Mundt in a statement. “An ecosystem which extends across various markets and thus constitutes an almost unchallengeable position of economic power is particularly characteristic in this respect. This could apply to Amazon with its online marketplaces and many other, above all digital offers.”

The regulator said that if it does find the company has such a market position, it could take early action against and prohibit possible anti-competitive practices by the company.

The Federal Cartel Office is also currently investigating Amazon based on the abuse control rules which were already in place before the latest amendment to the competition law.

An Amazon spokesperson said: “We cannot comment on ongoing proceedings and will fully cooperate with the FCO. Amazon employs 23,000 people in Germany, has invested EUR 28 billion in the country since 2010 and is working closely with local research. We continue to focus on innovating for both our customers and the businesses in Germany that sell in our store.”

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