Amazon wants to suspend some online selling and marketing methods to avoid potential EU antitrust fines, but a coalition of 11 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) called the proposal “weak, vague and full of loopholes”.

The coalition includes LobbyControl, the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), the Austrian Federal Chamber of Labour, and the European Public Services Union. The group’s criticism is similar to that of pan-European consumer group BEUC, which voiced complaints last week.

The organizations stated that Amazon’s proposal is weak, ambiguous and riddled with loopholes, allowing the e-commerce giant to evade fines and antitrust laws. “Moreover, the proposed limitation of these commitments to five years, or indeed any time horizon at all, is unjustifiable”, the group said in a statement.

Amazon’s proposal

The non-governmental organizations requested the European Commission to compel Amazon to separate its marketplace from its retail and shipping activities to address issues about the company’s domination and control over interconnected services.

The Commission initially granted third parties until September 9 to respond to Amazon’s offer, which includes a promise not to use sellers’ data for its rival retail business and private-label items.

The retail giant said it would treat sellers fairly when rating their offerings for the ‘buy box’ on its website, which accounts for most of its sales. It also promised to create a second buy box for competing products if their pricing and delivery time differ significantly from the item in the first box.

Criticism

Amazon proposed several further changes to its business, but the coalition claims that the offer falls short of stricter criteria imposed on internet gatekeepers under new technology legislation set to take effect next year.

According to BEUC legal and economic affairs director Agustin Reyna, Amazon should cease using sellers’ data until independent researchers examine the usefulness of a second buy box on its website.

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