In the Communication on online platforms of 25 May 2016, the Commission carried out a targeted fact-finding exercise on business-to-business (B2B) practices in the online platforms sphere. Certain business users of online platforms (such as app developers that use app stores, or e-commerce retailers that use online market places) may namely experience unfair treatment by platforms, which could have potential negative effects on innovation or the wider European economy.
Then in May 2017, the Commission announced in its mid-term review of the Digital Single Market Strategy that it would deliver concrete actions on unfair contracts and trading practices in platform-to-business relations still in 2017.
The fact-finding exercise covered:
- the study: Business-to-business relations in the online platform environment;
- comprehensive surveys of platforms and their business users on potentially unfair trading practices and their impact, as well as on the existence of redress possibilities against such trading practices. The surveys and public consultations on online platforms were open to all interested stakeholders;
- a stakeholder workshops focusing, respectively, on platforms' terms and conditions, data related issues and algorithms, ranking and transparency;
- a workshop with online platform companies to exchange views on possible issues reported by business users of platforms;
- a workshop focusing on effective dispute resolution and the fundamental right to conduct a business. Its aim was to gather experts' views on how to design a possible dispute resolution instrument capable of meeting digital-specific challenges around, amongst others, the need for speed & anonymity, the required information gathering & analytics capabilities as well as around jurisdiction in the context of global ecosystems.