The Vertical Block Exemption Regulation is a valuable tool, helping businesses to self-assess the compliance of their sale and distribution agreements with EU competition rules and facilitating the work of European enforcement authorities, as it exempts vertical agreements falling within its scope from Article 101(1) of the Treaty. Ensuring that the scope of the VBER is appropriately defined is therefore crucial for reducing businesses’ compliance costs and granting them flexibility in the design of their distribution systems, while ensuring the effective enforcement of the competition rules. Ensuring that hardcore restrictions are defined with sufficient clarity is key to the effectiveness of the rules. Following the adoption of the new VBER in May 2022, this article focuses on the changes made to the provisions concerning hardcore restrictions and the additional guidance provided in the accompanying Vertical Guidelines.

By Kassiani Christodoulou & Marion Carbo[1]

 

I. INTRODUCTION

On May 10, 2022, the Commission adopted a revised Vertical Block Exemption Regulation (“VBER”),[2] followed by revised Vertical Guidelines.[3]

Like previous Block Exemption Regulations for vertical agreements, the new VBER aims to provide businesses with guidance that can help them self-assess the compliance of their supply and distribution agreements with Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“the Treaty”) and to facilitate the enforcem

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