EU Launches E-Commerce Antitrust Inquiry

European officials want to make it easier for companies to offer e-commerce across the continent, and are asking whether some firms are putting barriers in the way of that happening. Among the actions they announced today is an antitrust inquiry to investigate "possible competition concerns" put in place by some Web companies.

Without focusing on any specific companies, the e-commerce sector inquiry will look at any potential barriers that businesses may be erecting to cross-border trade of goods, services and digital content across the 28 European Union (EU) member states. The EU has taken a number of similar actions against several Internet giants over the years, including a case brought against Microsoft in 2007 and an antitrust investigation against Google launched in 2010.

In addition to announcing the antitrust inquiry, EU officials today also rolled out an ambitious, multipronged strategy for a "Digital Single Market" for Europe. The program sets 16 goals to be achieved by the end of 2016 aimed at making e-commerce, data sharing and standards more effective and easier to deliver across all EU borders.

Goal: 'A Wave of European Startups'

The Digital Single Market strategy rests on three main pillars: providing citizens and businesses across Europe with better access to digital goods and services; creating "the right conditions and a level playing field for digital networks and innovative services to flourish"; and helping Europe's digital economy to meet its greatest possible potential for growth.

"I want to see pan-continental telecoms networks, digital services that cross borders and a wave of innovative European startups," said Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (pictured). "I want to see every consumer getting the best deals and every business accessing the widest market -- wherever they are in Europe."

"Our economies and societies are going digital," added Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society...

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