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Business

EU launches e-commerce probe amid new digital strategy

The EU Commission has launched an anti-trust inquiry into the bloc's e-commerce sector, targeting firms such as Google and Amazon. It comes as the EU's executive presented its new digital strategy.

The probe would look into how Internet giants such as Google, Amazon and Facebook used their

influence and mettle in the European market

, the European Commission said on Wednesday. It will be crucial in deciding whether these companies have to be regulated more tightly.

The inquiry will focus on the transparency of search results and pricing policies, how online platforms use the data they obain, their relationships with other businesses and how they promote their own services to the potential disadvantage of competitors.

The investigation was announced as part of the EU's "Digital Single Markets Strategy" unveiled by Commission Vice President

Andrus Ansip

. He said the strategy would "prepare Europe to reap the benefits of a digital future" and "give people and companies the online freedoms to profit fully from Europe's huge internal market." Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker hailed the proposal's

Geoblocking targeted

The Commission is not just looking at the Internet bellwethers and their alleged abuse of power, though. The EU's comprehensive review of the e-commerce market will aim to break down what it considers artificial national barriers within the bloc.

"Europe has strengths to build on, but also homework to do, in particular to make sure its industries adapt, and its citizens make full use of the potential of new digital services and goods," said Günther Oettinger (pictured above), Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society.

The proposals include regulations that would make it easier to buy and sell goods across EU borders, ensuring cheaper cross-border parcel delivery services, an end to what the EU deems unjustified national restrictions on content, updated copyright laws, simplified rules for sales taxes and an overhaul of telecoms rules.

ng/hg (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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