The new deal was announced by the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission Main European Union bodies on Thursday. According to the Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip, the EU aimed "to outlaw some of the most unfair practices and create a benchmark for transparency."
Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, Mariya Gabriel, added:
"These are the first rules of this kind anywhere in the world, and they strike the right balance between stimulating innovation while protecting our European values. They will improve the relationship between businesses and platforms, making it fairer and more transparent, and ultimately leading to great advantages for the consumers. We will closely monitor the evolution of this field, not least through our Online Platform Observatory."
We have a political agreement for the 1st ever #DigitalEuropeProgram #MFF! This is a clear signal that we will put all our efforts for ensuring our citizens, businesses & MS fully benefit from the digital transformation. Thank you @AngelikaMlinar @Europarl_EN @ro2019eu @EUCouncil— Mariya Gabriel (@GabrielMariya) February 13, 2019
New transparency rules will benefit millions of European companies relying on digital platforms to reach their customers. Ending unfair practices, safeguarding the great advantages of online platforms for consumers and for businesses. #P2B #ecommerce pic.twitter.com/eqlr9xVd91— Andrus Ansip (@Ansip_EU) February 14, 2019
Small businesses are set to benefit from the following new regulations:
- No more sudden, unexplained account suspensions: With the new rules, digital platforms can no longer suspend or terminate a seller's account without clear reasons, and possibilities to appeal. The platform will also have to reinstate sellers if a suspension was made in error.
- Plain and intelligible terms and advance notice for changes: Terms and conditions must be easily available and provided in plain and intelligible language. When changing these terms and conditions, at least 15 days prior notice needs to be given to allow companies to adapt their business to these changes. Longer notice periods apply if the changes require complex adaptions.
- Transparent ranking: Marketplaces and search engines need to disclose the main parameters they use to rank goods and services on their site, to help sellers understand how to optimise their presence. The rules aim to help sellers without allowing gaming of the ranking system.
- Mandatory disclosure for a range of business practices: Some online platforms not only provide the marketplace, but are also sellers on the same marketplace at the same time. According to the new transparency rules platforms must exhaustively disclose any advantage they may give to their own products over others. They must also disclose what data they collect, and how they use it — and in particular how such data is shared with other business partners they have. Where personal data is concerned, the rules of the GDPR apply.
- New avenues for dispute resolution: All platforms must set up an internal complaint-handling system to assist business users. Only the smallest platforms in terms of head count or turnover will be exempt from this obligation.
- Enforcement: Business associations will be able to take platforms to court to stop any non-compliance with the rules. This will help overcome fear of retaliation, and lower the cost of court cases for individual businesses, when the new rules are not followed.
The new regulation targets Amazon Marketplace, eBay, Apple's App Store, Google Play, Facebook Marketplace, Booking.com and Leboncoin.fr and others.