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HOTREC Hails EC Push for Online Platform Transparency

Europe’s hoteliers, restauranteurs and café owners welcomed a recent proposal tabled by the European Commission aiming to set new standards on transparency and fairness for online platforms and search engines.

HOTREC, the umbrella association of hotels, restaurants and cafés in Europe, says the new regulations are set to bring more balanced business relationships in the digital single market, while granting businesses more predictability as well as providing access to effective means to address problems.

According to HOTREC, the dominance of online platforms over the years has led many member businesses to lose control over their products and services leaving little no room for manoeuvre.

HOTREC said in a statement that the EC’s proposal will help address issues such as ranking methods and unilateral punishment of businesses for perceived misconduct that can significantly impact the businesses that use them. Indicatively, 46 percent of business users surveyed in a recent study noted problems in their relationships with platforms, 21 percent of which said they experience these problems often.

“When a single online platform controls two-thirds of an online intermediated market representing thousands of suppliers, the fragmented businesses cannot step up alone against practices considered unfair. This Commission proposal will help rectify some market failures and bring more fairness to online markets,” said Markus Luthe, chair of the HOTREC Distribution Task Force.

The suggested EC scheme requires platforms to ensure objective and more transparent procedures when setting their terms and conditions for business users including clearer and more defined ranking procedures as well as more effective dispute resolution.

“HOTREC hopes that with some improvements the decision-making procedure can be finalized before the renewal of EU Institutions in 2019,” said Christian de Barrin, CEO HOTREC.

The said regulation covers online platform intermediaries and online search engines that provide services to businesses established in the EU and that offer goods or services to consumers located in the Union. Online advertising and payment services that do not intermediate direct transactions between businesses and consumers, as well as intermediaries that operate between businesses only are excluded.

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