Germany’s Federal Cartel Office investigates Amazon

Germany’s Federal Cartel Office investigates Amazon

Brussels (Brussels Morning) Andreas Mundt, head of Germany’s Federal Cartel Office (FCO), has announced that the office is looking into US tech giant Amazon, DW reported on Tuesday.

He cited new regulations introduced in January that now allow the agency to examine whether internet giants have “paramount significance” when it comes to “competition across markets.”

According to the 10th amendment to the German Act against Restraints of Competition, regulators may investigate “large digital companies” to protect market competition.

Amazon has said it is cooperating fully with the FCO, noting that Germany is its second-largest market.

New rules allow preventative measures

The FCO stressed that new regulations grant it the authority to “intervene earlier and more effectively” against tech giants, allowing the office to take pre-emptive action against potential monopolies.

This approach will help authorities prevent problems rather than try to fix them after they have materialised, Mundt stressed.

According to the FCO, “examples of conduct which could be prohibited under the new provision include the self-preferencing of a group’s own services”. Mundt pointed out that Amazon offers many services and has many online marketplaces, which are now under scrutiny.

The agency added that it is using its expanded powers to broaden investigations into US tech giant Facebook.

Global push against tech giants

Last month, US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen called for a minimum global corporate tax of 21% for multinational companies such as Amazon and Google. EU member states France and Germany supported the move.

Bruno Le Maire, France’s Minister of the Economy, Finance and Recovery, spoke out at the same time claiming that “people are fed up with big companies for not paying their fair share of taxes”.

Amazon has boasted record turnover during the coronavirus pandemic with many of its competitors forced to close. In Germany last year, the company posted revenues of 24.3 billion euro, representing an annual growth of roughly 32%.