Businesses, especially SMEs, are increasingly dependent on platforms and search engines to reach new consumers and offer their goods and services. COVID-19 pandemic has further strengthened this trend, forcing most of the commerce to move online. As a result of these trends, platforms and search engines have a large and increasing influence on businesses’ exposure to the consumers. To remedy some of the imbalances in the platform and business user relationships, the European Commission adopted Regulation (EU) 2019/1150 on promoting fairness and transparency for business users of online intermediation services (the P2B Regulation). It sets out rules on the information that platforms have to provide to their business users, as well as procedural rules on the notice periods and methods of dispute settlement.
The main purpose of the study was to take stock of the state-of-play of the P2B Regulation implementation, evaluate its effectiveness as of 2022, and propose a methodology for its final evaluation taking place in 2025. In addition, the study also contributed to the awareness raising activities, including dissemination of implementation best practices to assist the Commission in ensuring effective implementation of the Regulation.
To gather data for the study the research team carried out surveys of platform business users in several Member States, desk research and literature review, detailed review of T&Cs for businesses of over 300 platforms, over 300 interviews, and four international focus groups. The stakeholders consulted include online platforms and search engines, business and corporate website users, associations and implementing bodies. Finally, in collaboration with the Open Terms Archive, the research team set up the initial framework of the monitoring of the T&Cs of over 200 platforms and their changes in time, as well as developed a machine learning algorithm allowing to detect their compliance with the P2B Regulation.