EU Formally Adopts Guidelines On Vertical Restraints

Today, the Commission has formally adopted the Guidelines on Vertical Restraints in all language versions.

On 10 May 2022, the Commission already approved the content of the Guidelines in English. The revised rules provide businesses with simpler, clearer and up-to-date rules and guidance. The new rules will help them to assess the compatibility of their supply and distribution agreements with EU competition rules in a business environment reshaped by the growth of e-commerce and online sales.

Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said “The revised Vertical Block Exemption Regulation and Vertical Guidelines are the result of a thorough review process. The new rules will provide companies with up-to-date guidance that is fit for an even more digitized decade ahead. The rules are important tools that will help all types of businesses, including small and medium enterprises, to assess their vertical agreements in their daily business.”

 In particular, the new rules narrow the scope of the safe harbour as regards: (i) dual distribution, that is, where a supplier sells its goods or services through independent distributors but also directly to end customers, and (ii) parity obligations, that is, obligations which require a seller to offer the same or better conditions to its counter-party as those offered on third-party sales channels, such as other platforms, and/or on the seller’s direct sales channels, like its website. This means that certain aspects of dual distribution and certain types of parity obligations will no longer be exempted under the new VBER but must instead be assessed individually under Article 101 TFEU.

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