Brussels, 22 April 2022 – With its decision of 20 April, the Bundeskartellamt makes a decisive step in addressing the abuses of its dominant position by Deutsche Bahn, such as imposing market restrictions, withholding crucial data and imposing unsustainably low commissions on independent distribution channels.
It is encouraging to see a recognition of the barriers built by Deutsche Bahn to hinder the effective distribution of its services by third parties. The Bundeskartellamt’s conclusion that such practices constitute an abuse of dominant position on the part of DB is an important step in ensuring a level playing field among mobility providers in Germany.
In particular, eu travel tech supports the BKartA’s view that DB’s commercial choice to withhold crucial real-time travel data, to burden mobility platforms with marketing restrictions (such as brand-bidding restrictions) and to provide unsustainably low commissions (i.e. no commission for certain services) to third parties is untenable. DB’s practices illustrate a general trend of dominant transport operators seeking to undermine independent distribution of their services in an effort to limit consumer transparency, competition and innovation.
The decision also shines a crucial light for the EU legislators on the issues to be addressed through regulation in the transport distribution market. Content & data access, as well as fair commercial terms are important building blocks to facilitating a convenient, transparent and multimodal booking process for European travelers, making the more sustainable transport modes such as rail travel more attractive. DB’s worrying market power on the German rail transport market is leveraged to favor its own in-house mobility platform against independent distribution channels. Such self-preferencing practices need to be adequately addressed by EU policymakers, notably in the incoming Multimodal Digital Mobility Services initiative.
Emmanuel Mounier, Secretary-General of eu travel tech said: “we are glad to observe the Bundeskartellamt calling out important challenges for the independent distribution of rail services. eu travel tech considers this decision as a useful blueprint for the coming European initiative on multimodal distribution.”