Yves Logghe/AP Photo
Investigations into cartels and price-fixing deals almost trebled over the last year, as the European Commission authorities launched a crackdown on anti-competitive practices, according to new figures.
Brussels launched investigations into 473 companies over the past 12 months, up from 134 in 2015-16, according to the data business Thomson Reuters.
Ecommerce businesses were specifically targeted as part an inquiry by the commission that opened two years ago. Its findings, which were published in May, highlighted significant competition concerns around the phenomenon known as geo-blocking.
Geo-blocking involves companies preventing online consumers from purchasing its products or services on the basis of the consumer’s nationality or place of residence. It usually takes the form of a refusal to deliver goods to customers in member states other than that of the seller, followed by refusals to accept payments from such customers.
Other EU competition investigations over the past 12 months have targeted companies sectors including transport, car manufacturing and financial services, according to the researchers. Many of those involved multiple parties, which partially explains the high number of investigations opened over the past year.
The researchers predicted that the number of investigations would increase further after the commission’s strengthened whistleblowing facilities came into force in March.