EU Looks At Simple Antitrust Rules For Manufacturers & Distributors

Rules that govern agreements between manufacturers and distributors have been simplified because of the growth of online sales and the entry of new players such as online marketplaces, EU antitrust regulators said on Tuesday.

The rules, called the Verticals Block Exemption Regulation and the Vertical Guidelines, will go into force on June 1 to replace the current set of rules that expire this month.

The new rules mean it will be easier for buyers to actively approach customers and for suppliers to set different wholesale prices for online and offline sales by the same distributor in order to incentivise or reward investments.

Agreements with sustainability objectives, such as exclusivity obligations to incentivise investments in green energy plants, also get more leeway.

The rules also said criteria imposed by suppliers for online sales should not prevent the effective use of the internet by the buyer or its customers to sell goods or services, an issue which in the past has pitted brand names against online platforms.

Illegal practices under the new rules include preventing a distributor from using an online advertising channel such as search engine advertising or price comparison services to attract customers to its website.

Want more news? Subscribe to CPI’s free daily newsletter for more headlines and updates on antitrust developments around the world.