Commission Guidelines On Vertical Agreements

The VBER and related directives expire on 31 May 2022. The Commission carried out a two-year evaluation to determine whether the VBER and the Guidelines should be terminated, renewed or revised by gathering information from different sources, including a public consultation, a targeted consultation of national competition authorities, a stakeholder workshop and an external study to support the evaluation. The Commission also gathered evidence through its e-commerce sector inquiry, which started in May 2015 and ended in May 2017. In addition, the EC`s experience with vertical restraints in recent years has allowed the EC to learn lessons. Data sharing is a good example. Data has become an increasingly important market and many companies need timely access to it. However, the vertical guidelines do not contain guidelines on the flow of information between different levels of the distribution chain. For example, raw material producers should normally make sales forecasts from their distributors in order to optimize their production planning. Such producers may also be required to regularly inform their distributors in advance of scheduled interviews so that distributors and their customers can find alternative sources of supply if necessary. But sometimes these same manufacturers also sell their products directly to their customers, competing with their distributors (the so-called dual distribution). The exchange of information is also relevant for the collection of information from downstream parties, for example. B retailers.

The need for guidelines therefore seems clear. When drawing up these new sections, it will be important for the Commission to ensure that its position is in line with any changes it intends to make to its guidelines on horizontal cooperation agreements and related block exemptions, for which it is carrying out a similar assessment. Market developments and, in particular, the growth of online sales and online platforms, which have changed the way companies provide and distribute goods and services, are of great importance for the assessment of eg. This shift to a digital economy has led to several problems with the operation of the VBER and has made it increasingly difficult for companies to evaluate their vertical agreements themselves with confidence. Margrethe Vestager, Vice-President in charge of competition policy, recognised that the rules need to be adapted so that they remain appropriate in a rapidly changing digital world5, which will certainly be a challenge for the EC in revising the rules. Definition of vertical agreements The Guidelines confirm that vertical agreements within the meaning of Article 2(1) of the Block Exemption Regulation `are agreements or concerted practices between two or more undertakings, each operating at a different level of the production or distribution chain for the purposes of the Agreement and relating to the conditions under which the parties may acquire. to sell or resell certain goods or services“. .

. .