Proposal for a EU Regulation on Platform-to-Business (P2B)

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The European Commission has run an intensive work to assess the need for a legal framework for online platforms since the beginning of its mandate.

  • What P2B is

As member states such as France[1] had started legislating on the matter, it presented a proposal to avoid fragmentation in the single market, i.e. proposal for a Regulation on promoting fairness and transparency for business users of online intermediation services and search engines (Platform-to-Business Regulation, P2B) in April 2018.

P2B seeks to frame the relation between online intermediation services and their business users, and between online search engines and their corporate website users respectively.

It should apply to online intermediation services and search engines that havebusiness users/ corporate website users established or residing in the EU and that also offer goods or services to consumers located in the EU.

P2B would impose on both online intermediation services and online search engines several transparency obligations related to their terms and conditions, their decisions to suspend or terminate the service, but also to the parameters for ranking goods or services. Other transparency obligations could be imposed relative to the differentiated treatment applied between the goods or services available on the platform or for accessing the data generated by their platform. Finally, online intermediation services that restricts a business user from offering more favorable conditions elsewhere could be forced to describe the grounds for doing so in their contractual agreements.

P2B would also impose obligations to offer redress to business users or corporate website users. Online intermediation service would have to establish internal complaint handling systems and mediation services. In addition, non-profit organizations and associations with a legitimate interest of representing business users/ corporate website users, and Member States' public bodies, would be able to initiate legal actions for non-compliance with the future legislation.

  • Where P2B stands

The European Commission presented P2B on April 28th, 2018. It is unclear whether the Proposal can be adopted before the EU elections of May 2019.

The Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU aims to reach an agreement on a common position of member states end November, with a view to reach an inter-institutional agreement by December 2018.

The European Parliament started to examine P2B in Committee, Internal Market and Consumer Protection, on 24 September 2018. The report should be voted in plenary on December 6th.

 

[1]Some of the P2B transparency obligations are modelled in part on the ones imposed on online platforms under French law. The French Digital Law of October 7th, 2016 created transparency obligations for online platforms in the B2C sector. Among other, they must provide consumers with fair, clear and transparent information regarding general terms of use, modalities of classifying, referencing or dereferencing. They must also provide information on the existence of any contractual relationships, capital ties or remuneration to its benefit, provided they influence the classifying or referencing of the proposed content, goods and services.