The European Commission has approved the creation of business-to-business (B2B) ecommerce exchange MyAircraft.com, easing fears that it and other emarketplaces could be shut down by regulators for being anti-competitive.
Last month the Commission warned that it was concerned about the potential for price fixing within B2B emarketplaces and their potential to shut out smaller players. US regulators have expressed similar worries.
Yesterday, after a month-long preliminary investigation, the European Commission approved MyAircraft.com - a joint venture between United Technologies, Honeywell International and i2 Technologies that will sell aircraft components.
The website is the second to be given the green light by the Commission, following last month's approval of emaro - a joint venture between Deutsche Bank and enterprise resource planning software vendor SAP to create a platform for suppliers of office equipment.
In MyAircraft's case, the Commission said it is just one of a number of similar ventures in the same sector and that there is no danger to competition.
Both approvals have been seen as pioneer rulings for B2B exchanges as more ventures across other industries are planned. However, officials at the European Commission said internet businesses are subject to the same tests as any other, and that each case would be judged on its merits and no special tests applied.
The Commission could soon begin a preliminary investigation into a significantly more important test case - a car components online exchange called Covisint.
Planned by a coalition of international car manufacturers, including Ford, General Motors, Daimler/Chrysler and Renault/Nissan, the exchange is being investigated by US regulators and would also have to be investigated by the Commission if it is to operate in Europe under EU law.
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