The New EU Competition Rules for the Assessment of Horizontal Agreements, II

Paul Lugard, Feb 18, 2011

Following a consultation process of more than two years, the European Commission has now adopted its Guidelines on the applicability of Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to horizontal co-operation agreements (the “Horizontal Guidelines”). The new Horizontal Guidelines include a significantly revised chapter on standardization agreements, Chapter 7, an entirely new chapter on information exchanges, as well as numerous other modifications to and refinements of the previous guidelines.

The Horizontal Guidelines provide the EC Commission’s new analytical framework for the assessment of most common types of horizontal agreements, including: research and development agreements; joint production agreements; commercialization agreements and standardization agreements that fall outside the two block exemption regulations for specific types of horizontal agreements; the Specialisation block exemption regulation on unilateral and reciprocal specialization agreements and joint production agreements;and the Research and Development block exemption regulation on joint research and exploitation of the results of joint research and development.

As part of its review, the Commission has considerably revised these rules. Overall, the scope of both block exemption regulations has been amended significantly and, while on balance the new rules provide a more liberal, coherent, and user-friendly framework for companies to structure

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