The National Commission of Markets and Competition (CNMC) has opened a sanctioning file against Amazon and Apple for possible anti-competitive practices in the sectors of online sales of electronic products and the provision of marketing services to third-party retailers through of online platforms (marketplace) in Spain.
Specifically, the regulator denounces the existence of a possible agreement between both groups so that other companies can sell Apple products such as computers (Mac), mobile phones (iPhone), tablets (iPad) and others (Apple Watch, AirPods, etc.) on the Amazon website in Spain
They also agreed to restrict certain advertising of Apple’s competing products as well as to prioritize certain campaigns directed at Apple customers by Amazon, according to the investigation opened by the CNMC.
The case has been opened against the four subsidiaries through which Amazon operates: Amazon Services Europe, Amazon Europe Core; Amazon EU; and Amazon Online Spain. Likewise, a file is opened to the three companies with which Apple provides its services in Spain: Apple Distribution International, Apple Retail Spain and Apple Marketing Iberia.
“The CNMC has had access to certain information from which it can be deduced the existence of rational indications of the commission by Amazon and Apple of an infringement of articles 1 of Law 15/2007, of July 3, on the Defense of the Competition (LDC) and 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), the CNMC indicated this Thursday in a statement.
The initiation of this file does not prejudge the final result of the investigation. A maximum period of 18 months is now open for the investigation of the file and for its resolution by the CNMC.
The president of the CNMC, Cani Fernández, was asked a couple weeks ago why Spain was not investigating the technological giants as countries such as France, Italy or Germany were doing, she replied: “We have no complaints. However, in cases like these, which are transnational, the one that can best open a file is Brussels. If there is a complaint in our territory, we have an obligation to investigate it. Without that complaint, Brussels can stop me. I can assure you that if we receive a complaint that is worth investigating, we will do so ”. Two weeks later it has opened a file with Amazon and Apple.
Other complaints in the EU
It’s not the first time the two tech giants have faced potential penalties for restricting competition. In November 2020, the European Commission opened a case against Amazon for abuse of a dominant position for allegedly using “sensitive data on a large scale to compete against smaller suppliers” in an irregular way, especially in France and Germany.
A second formal investigation is also underway focusing on antitrust rules “into possible preferential treatment of Amazon’s own retail offerings and those of market sellers using the company’s logistics and delivery services.”
For their part, EU antitrust regulators accused Apple last April of abusing its dominant position in distributing music download apps through its App Store by imposing abusive fees on music platforms like Spotify.