New Kids on the Block: Retailer-driven Vertical Practices and the New Regulation of Vertical Restraints in EU Competition Law

Ioannis Lianos, Jul 07, 2010

By integrating more fully the retailer power story, the new vertical restraints guidelines and block exemption regulation provide for a more equilibrated regime for vertical restraints in Europe. The objective of the Commission was not only to address the important concern of retailer power and its possible anticompetitive effects in a retail sector that is characterized by increasing concentration, although not necessarily increasing profitability, but also to respond to the concerns (and political pressure) over big distribution and the power of multi-brand retailers that have been expressed at the national level, with the adoption of a hard or a soft law type of approach in order to regulate the relation between suppliers and retailers. By bringing these concerns within the realm of EU competition law, the Commission offers an alternative relief valve that takes more into account the effect of these practices on consumers than the regulations adopted at the national level.