Advocate General issues opinion on interpretation of E-commerce Directive and Platform to Business Regulation

January 16, 2024

The Advocate General has issued an Opinion in Joint Cases C-662/22 | Airbnb Ireland and C-667/22 | Amazon Services Europe Case C-663/22 | Expedia in Joint Cases C-664/22 | Google Ireland and C-666/22 | Eg Vacation Rentals Ireland Case C-665/22 | Amazon Services Europe.

In Italy, providers of online intermediation services and search engines, (for example, Google, Amazon and Vacation Rentals) are subject to certain obligations: they must be entered in a register, periodically submit certain information to an administrative authority and pay a financial contribution. Penalties are imposed if they fail to meet those obligations.

Expedia is established in the US and objected to the obligation to supply information. The other online service providers are established in the EU and challenged all the obligations before the Italian courts. They argued that the obligations are contrary to Regulation (EU) 2019/1150 on promoting fairness and transparency for business users of online intermediation services (Platform to Business Regulation). However, Italy states that the law in question implements EU rules. In addition, the companies argued that the obligations infringe the principle in the Directive on electronic commerce (2000/31/EC) under which information society services are, in principle, subject to the law of the Member State in which the service provider is established (in this case Ireland and Luxembourg).

The Italian court decided to refer questions to the Court of Justice.

According to Advocate General Maciej Szpunar, EU law and, more specifically, the Directive on electronic commerce, does prevent the imposition of such general and abstract obligations on an online service provider established in another Member State.

In addition, he considers that the Italian law does not constitute implementing measures for the Platform to Business Regulation. Consequently, it does not justify those obligations. The objective of the Platform to Business Regulation is to contribute to the proper functioning of the internal market by putting in place a fair, predictable, sustainable and trusted environment for online commercial transactions within the internal market. In that context, a Member State may only collect information that is relevant to its obligations under that Regulation and its objectives.