What has been done so far for the ranking transparency guidelines.

Context

The platform-to-business relations regulation (Regulation (EU) 2019/1150) requires online intermediation services, such as ecommerce marketplaces, app stores and online travel agents, to set out in their terms and conditions the main parameters determining ranking and the reasons for their relative importance. A similar obligation applies to online search engines.

The Commission is tasked with producing guidelines to help online intermediation services and online search engines understand this obligation, before it starts to apply on 12 July 2020.

Workshops

In order to gather the input of stakeholders, the European Commission organised two workshops at the end of 2019 where a variety of stakeholders discussed the purpose and design of the guidelines.

The event reports of the workshops are now available:

  1. For the workshop of 21 November 2019 (.pdf), which focused on e-commerce, travel and accommodation, car rental and delivery sectors; and
  2. For the workshop of 12 December 2019 (.pdf), which brought together stakeholders representing online search engines, app developers and stores, as well as social media.

Dedicated Online Survey

A targeted online survey was open for comments at the end of the year 2019. See the answers in a zip file.

Available stakeholder submissions include:

Subject matter

Both in the workshops as well as through the online survey, the Commission sought to gain feedback on the objectives of the guidelines, on specific elements that need clarification as well as on best practices.

As regards objectives, the Commission more specifically consulted on the following elements:

  • The main elements included in Article 5 including ‘ranking’, ‘relative importance’, ‘main parameters, and ‘adequate understanding’.
  • The balance between giving meaningful transparency and preventing bad faith manipulation of ranking.
  • The identification of existing sectoral rules and industry best practices, which may be of relevance.
  • The complementarity and relationship between requirements in the Regulation with consumer protection/marketing legislation and the fight against illegal content online.
  • Practical guidance and examples of how online intermediation services and search engines can describe and present the main parameters in the most meaningful way for business users.
  • The benefit of providing sector specific guidance, if and where appropriate.
  • The identification of ways to help businesses monitor, or self-verify changes in ranking parameters, including using the latest technical tools or experiments.

Next steps

The Commission will continue to process all of the stakeholder feedback it receives in order to draw up guidelines that provide guidance on the obligations established in the Regulation tailored as closely as possible to the needs of the broader ecosystems that exist around online intermediation services and online search engines. The guidelines are expected to be published at the end of April 2020, before Regulation (EU) 2019/1150 will start to apply.