Online platforms: Commission sets new standards on transparency and fairness

The European Commission has proposed a Regulation that would provide new rules for Online Platforms (OP). The aim is to create a fair, transparent and predictable business environment for smaller businesses and traders when using OP. Ultimately, it will also benefit European consumers.

Why?

A recent survey has showed that 50% of European businesses operating through OPs experience problems.

On one hand, a lot of small businesses including hotels, traders who sell online and app developers, depend on OPs to reach their customers. On the other, there is a danger that OPs may abuse their market power through unfair trading practices. Redress mechanisms should be provided and fragmentation of national rules avoided.

Adopting transparent rules would have the advantage of providing both OPs and their customers with legal certainty.

How?

The proposed new rules would tackle these concerns by:

– Increasing transparency: e.g. by providing terms and conditions that are easily understandable and available; setting out clearly (in advance) the possible reasons why a professional user may be delisted or suspended from a platform; providing a minimum notice period for implementing changes in terms and conditions.

– Resolving disputes more effectively: they would facilitate out-of-court dispute resolution with providers of online intermediation services. Associations representing businesses will be granted the right to bring court proceedings on behalf of businesses.

– Setting up an EU Observatory to monitor the impact of the new rules: with a view to enabling the Commission to further develop legislation where it is appropriate.

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