BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Online and electronics retailers will find out on Thursday whether European Union antitrust regulators plan to take any action after a year-long investigation into restrictions on cross-border online sales within the bloc.
The so-called e-commerce sector inquiry is part of the European Commission’s campaign to overhaul the 28-country bloc’s digital market in a bid to boost growth and catch up with the United States and Asia.
Initial findings released in March showed that geoblocking, where retailers prevent online shoppers in some countries buying cheaper products or services abroad, is widespread, due in part to agreements between retailers and content providers.
European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager is expected to hold a news conference on the topic at about 1300 GMT in Paris, spokesman Ricardo Cardoso said in an email.
Building on the March findings, the EU antitrust enforcer will provide details of possible anti-competitive agreements, which could lay the groundwork for cases against some retailers. A final report is due in the first quarter of 2017.
EU antitrust scrutiny of the pharmaceutical, energy and financial services industries over the past decade prompted investigations into companies in all three sectors.
While about half of EU consumers shopped online in 2014, only 15 percent of them bought a product from another EU country because of language barriers, different laws as well as anti-competitive behavior, according to Commission data.
Editing by David Clarke