The European Commission has carried out unannounced inspections at the premises of companies involved in the online ordering and delivery of food, groceries and other consumer goods in two Member States. The Commission is concerned, according to the Community Executive, “that the companies in question may have infringed the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union with regard to the prohibition of cartels and restrictive business practices. The officials of the European Commission, who have not revealed the names of the companies, were accompanied by their counterparts from the national authorities in the area of competition.
As reported by Reuters, German food delivery company Delivery Hero and its Spanish subsidiary Glovo have been investigated by antitrust regulators in the European Union. Reuters cites the companies, which risk heavy fines.
Delivery Hero told the Anglo-Saxon agency that the inspection did not mean that the European Commission, which acts as the EU’s antitrust enforcer, had concluded that there had been an infringement of competition law. The company, which acknowledged that inspections took place at its Berlin office, said it was “committed to fully cooperate with the Commission”.
Spanish app Glovo, in which Delivery Hero recently acquired a 94% stake, also confirmed the inspections. Its headquarters in Barcelona came under investigation last week, Glovo said in an email response to a query from Reuters, without providing further details of the operation.
According to the European Commission, “the investigation concerns an alleged agreement or concerted practice to share national markets for online ordering and delivery of food, groceries and other consumer goods in the European Union. Surprise inspections are a preliminary step to alleged anti-competitive practices. The fact that the European Commission carries out such inspections does not mean that the companies are guilty of anti-competitive behavior nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself.
“There is no legal deadline to complete investigations into anticompetitive conduct,” says the Community Executive: “Its duration depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of each case, the extent to which the companies in question cooperate with the European Commission and the exercise of defense rights.
Under the European Commission’s repentance program, companies that have been involved in a secret cartel can obtain exemptions from fines or significant reductions in fines in exchange for reporting the conduct and cooperating with the Commission throughout its investigation. .
People can report cartels or other anti-competitive behavior anonymously through the European Commission’s whistleblowing tool.