Selective Distribution of Branded and Luxury Products and the Conjuncture of Online and Offline Commerce in the Light of the European Commission’s Revision of the Vertical Restraints Regime

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Andres Font Galarza, Constantin Gissler, Mar 12, 2009

The European Commission is currently working on the revision of the Commission Regulation (EC) No 2790/1999 on the application of Article 81(3) EC to certain categories of vertical agreements (“vBER”) and the respective Guidelines as the current rules will expire on May 31, 2010. A major issue in this revision is the question of how to deal with online commerce that has been developing at an ever-increasing speed since the making of the vBER in the late 1990s. Commissioner for Competition, Neelie Kroes, has shown a high interest in online commerce and in how to explore its full potential in the future. A roundtable of stakeholders organized by Commissioner Kroes and a public consultation revealed a number of controversial issues that the Commission will have to address in its revision work in 2009. In the following, we shed light on the antitrust law issues regarding selective distribution and online commerce as well as on the ongoing policy debate in this respect.