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European competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager. Photo: Olivier Hoslet/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

EU regulators have filed antitrust charges against Amazon, claiming the company is acting anti-competitively when it uses data from sellers on its marketplace to develop its own products.

Why it matters: Europe could seek billions of dollars in fines from Amazon, and regulators' findings could inform the work of U.S. antitrust enforcers. The Federal Trade Commission reportedly started looking into Amazon's treatment of third-party sellers last year.

What they're saying: EU regulators believe "the use of non-public marketplace seller data allows Amazon to avoid the normal risks of retail competition and to leverage its dominance in the market for the provision of marketplace services in France and Germany — the biggest markets for Amazon in the EU," according to a statement.

  • “We disagree with the preliminary assertions of the European Commission and will continue to make every effort to ensure it has an accurate understanding of the facts,” a spokesperson said in a statement, noting that “there are larger retailers in every country in which we operate” and that more than 150,000 European sellers use Amazon as a marketplace.

Between the lines: The case seeks to establish two core tenets of a successful antitrust action: Namely, that a firm has overwhelming power in a clearly defined market — in this case, e-commerce portals in two specific countries where third parties can sell goods — and that it uses that power to cause harm.

Meanwhile: In tandem with the charges, the EU's executive commission announced a new investigation into whether Amazon is favoring itself or sellers that rely on Amazon for warehousing and shipping merchandise under the "fulfilled by Amazon" program when it decides which seller of a given product lands in the "Buy Box." That's the default and most prominent option for buying a particular product on Amazon.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include comment from Amazon.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 26, 2021 - Energy & Environment

The rise of corporate renewables

Data: BloombergNEF; Chart: Axios Visuals

Companies worldwide are buying more renewable power than ever, and now some of the biggest U.S. corporations say the Biden administration can help decarbonize the nation's power more quickly.

Why it matters: Corporate procurement of renewables — especially wind and solar — is becoming an important deployment driver as companies take advantage of lower prices and look to meet sustainability pledges.

Group of 20 bipartisan senators back $1.2T infrastructure framework

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) arrives for a meeting with Senate Budget Committee Democrats in the Mansfield Room at the U.S. Capitol building on June 16, 2021 in Washington, DC. The Majority Leader and Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee are meeting to discuss how to move forward with the Biden Administrations budget proposal. Photo: Samuel Corum / Getty Images

A group of 10 Democratic and 10 Republican senators (the "G20") tasked with negotiating an infrastructure deal with the White House has released a statement in support of a $1.2 trillion framework.

Why it matters: Details regarding the plan have not yet been released, but getting 10 Republicans on board means the bill could get the necessary 60 votes to pass.

DOJ drops criminal probe, civil lawsuit against John Bolton over Trump book

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The Justice Department has closed its criminal investigation into whether President Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton disclosed classified information with his tell-all memoir, “The Room Where it Happened," according to a source with direct knowledge.

Why it matters: The move comes a year after the Trump administration tried to silence Bolton by suing him in federal court, claiming he breached his contract by failing to complete a pre-publication review for classified information. Prosecutors indicated they had reached a settlement with Bolton to drop the lawsuit in a filing on Wednesday.