Interesting Background and Reflections on the E-Commerce Sector Inquiry

Av. Bora Ikiler is a counsel at Moroğlu Arseven

Last week I attended International Bar Association’s (“IBA”) 26th Annual Communications and Competition Law Conference in London. The conference was attended by practitioners from around the world, in-house counsels, IBA executives, as well as executives involved in the IBA’s Antitrust Committee and Communications Law Committee and officers from the European Commission. Attendees discussed the recent heavily debated issues arising from the intersection of competition and communication law.

A key takeaway point I gained at the conference was that the e-commerce sector will remain on the European Commission’s radar screen for the foreseeable future. Thus, the Commission’s sector inquiry into e-commerce is firmly among the Commission’s top priorities.

A couple of interesting background events and factors which I believe paved the way for the Commission’s sector inquiry include:

  • A well-functioning e-commerce sector is considered vital for economic growth due to its capacity to reduce transaction costs, bring down prices, and to provide a wide spectrum of choices to consumers.
  • The e-commerce sector’s significance is reflected in the fact that in 2014 half of the EU population shopped online. That said, only 15% of the population shopped online from cross-border suppliers.
  • There might be various reasons – not related with competition law – for limited number of cross-border online sales. For example, language barriers, consumer preferences, different legal landscapes etc.
  • That said, surveys reveal that private contractual barriers may prevent cross-border online sales. It has been reported that 1/3 of retailers cited contractual restrictions in their distribution agreements as the reason for refusing to supply services cross-border.

Based on my discussions during the conference and documents published by the Commission (including a press release), the sector inquiry’s rationale seems to be to:

  • Ensure better understanding of the online markets.
  • Investigate reasons behind lack of cross-border online sales, and the potential digital barriers preventing online sales.
  • Identify new forms of competition restrictions that are not common in the “brick and mortar” world (if any),
  • Identify the online manifestations of traditional anti-competitive conduct (such as market partitioning, discrimination based on geography etc.)

*This post is intended only for information purposes. It should not be construed as legal advice. We would be pleased to provide additional information or advice if desired.

 

Moroğlu Arseven – Firm profile

 Moroğlu Arseven is a full service law firm with broadly demonstrated expertise and experience in all aspects of business law. Established in 2000, Moroğlu Arseven combines a new generation of experienced international business lawyers and acclaimed of counsels who have academic, judicial and practical experience in the field of private law. A dynamic and dedicated team at Moroğlu Arseven is able to analyse the legal framework and provide flexible solutions for clients doing business in Turkey. The firm’s attorneys are able to converse and correspond fluently in English, German and French, providing the flexibility to serve local clients in international markets and international clients in Turkey and to understand developments in international legal practice and uniform laws.

Bora İkiler, LL.M. – Counsel

Bora leads the competition law practice of Moroglu Arseven. Bora supports Turkish and international clients to structure and implement corporate and commercial transactions and deals, with a particular focus on competition law. He has represented a range of clients before the Turkish Competition Authority in their merger control filings, individual exemption filings, leniency applications, as well as pre-investigations and investigations. Bora’s work covers a wide range of industries, including beverages, banking, health, cement, automotive, retail, cosmetics, ticketing, as well as broadcasting. Bora has experience supporting clients to understand their competition law compliance obligations by way of audits and mock dawn raid sessions, as well as presenting training seminars and developing workplace policies. Bora regularly publishes articles about competition law matters.