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At the end of 2021, after a long investigation process which took more than two years, the Italian Competition Authority fined Amazon 1.2 billion euros for abusing its dominant position in the sector of ecommerce marketplaces (violation of the article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union).
Amazon has a strongly dominant position in the Italian market of online intermediation services, as testified by its ability to earn the 70% of the total revenues generated by the ecommerce sector in the country. According to the principles of markets regulation, dominant positions per se are not forbidden. However, abuses of dominant positions are not allowed and tend to be carefully scrutinized by market regulators.
According to the Competition Authority, Amazon abused its dominant position by unfairly favouring its own delivery service. In other words, the Seattle-based company used the dominance gained in the ecommerce sector as a tool to further expand its activities in the field of logistics services, in line with the predictions and analysis by Khan (2017). As a consequence, its competitors in the logistics sector were penalized.
More precisely, third-party sellers using the delivery service named “Fulfilment by Amazon” were unduly privileged over retailers opting for other delivery providers. The discriminatory practices adopted by Amazon were related to four main issues:
- the possibility to access the Prime service;
- the right to offer special discounts, as in the case of Black Fridays;
- the positioning in search results;
- the exemption from the service of standards assessment provided by Amazon to the sellers using its digital marketplace.
The Italian Competition Authority not only imposed a fine, but also established a set of measures, obligations and conditions aimed at restoring forms of fair competition.
Against this backdrop, the webinar intends to examine whether the combination of specific antitrust national decisions and the introduction of new regulatory tools and remedies suggested by the European Commission with the Digital Markets Act can effectively curb the power exerted by gatekeepers such as Amazon, with the final goal of promoting a digital economy genuinely based on the principles of innovation and competition.