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Amazon is on the brink of EU antitrust investigation

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It seems like it’s Amazon’s turn to be placed under the microscope of the European Union (EU) antitrust regulators.

Other Big Tech club members, like Google and Apple, have already been in the hot seat for various violations of this kind in the EU – receiving in some cases fines worth billions of dollars, that nonetheless made little to no impact on their bottom line.

And it’s questionable if this type of punishment has had a great impact on their behavior either – that is, their controversial business models.

The EU is now reportedly turning its attention to the US-based global retail and cloud computing giant Amazon, for the company’s alleged anti-competitiveness on the Marketplace platform that it owns.

Bloomberg reports this citing two unnamed sources familiar with the matter.

At stake is, for the first time, Amazon’s online retail business model said the article. The company was previously investigated in the EU – but for different types of violations.

And Bloomberg terms the probe that is now expected to be launched as European Commissioner (EC) for Competition Margrethe Vestager “preparing for a summer finale to her five-year crackdown on US technology giants” – a reference to the end of the mandate of the current EU Commission this coming fall.

The agency was unable to get a comment out of either Amazon or the EC, but European Consumer Organization representative Johannes Kleis is quoted as saying that “if powerful platforms are found to use data they amass to get an edge over their competitors, both consumers and the market bear the cost.”

Vestager initiated a preliminary Amazon investigation last September, focusing on the giant’s use of third party merchants who are selling on the platform, saying that the probe’s goal was to understand how Amazon’s “dual role” actually works.

“They host a lot of little guys, and at the same time, they’re a big guy in the same market. So how do they treat the data that they get from the little guy? Does that give them an advantage that cannot be matched?,” the commissioner said at the time, in an interview with CNBC.

Another tech giant, the chipmaker Qualcomm, looks at the possibility of receiving a fine next week – reportedly to the tune of over a billion dollars – for anti-competitive behavior. The company has been on EU’s radar since 2005 and was fined the last time in 2018.

Vestager’s office can slap companies with fines going up to ten percent of their worldwide annual revenues if they are found to be violating EU’s antitrust regulations.

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