As from 12 July 2020, the EU Platform to Business (P2B) Regulation will be directly applicable in all Member States.
The Regulation is aimed at creating a fair, transparent and more predictable environment for businesses and traders, when using online intermediation services and online search engines. With direct effect at national level, the new rules can be seen as one of the signs of a more interventionist EU approach to regulating online platforms.
The P2B Regulation will apply to online intermediation services and online search engines that provide their services to business users, as well as to corporate websites established in the EU and offering goods or services to consumers located in the EU. This includes e-commerce marketplaces, app stores, social media for business, price comparison tools and general online search engines. This legislation came about after traders selling online via marketplaces, hotels using booking platforms and app developers, particularly SMEs, complained to the Commission about what they deemed to be unfair practices of the online platforms they use to reach consumers.
Key elements of the P2B Regulation include:
- A ban of certain practices deemed to be unfair: digital platforms can no longer suspend or terminate a seller's account without clear reasons, and there should be possibilities to appeal. When changing terms and conditions, at least 15 days' prior notice needs to be given to allow companies to adapt.
- Greater transparency: 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. It shall be mandatory for online platforms to 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.
- Dispute resolution: online platforms must set up an internal complaint-handling system to assist business users, with only the smallest players exempt from this. Significantly, business associations will be able to take platforms to court to stop any non-compliance with the rules.