Vertical Agreements New Competition Rules For The Next Decade
Certain conditions will be clarified and simplified in the revised vaber, which will come into effect on 1 June 2022 when the current VABER expires. The revised VABER will also be extended to new distribution models and new restrictions resulting from the growth of e-commerce. Updating and simplifying should make it easier for companies to compete and reduce compliance costs. It is also about ensuring that national competition authorities and national courts take a common approach to enforcement. The European Commission (EC) recently confirmed that it will revise the current Category Exemption Regulation (VABER) and the EU Vertical Guidelines to ensure their usefulness in today`s digital world and in the future. Under the current VABER, vertical agreements (i.e. agreements between two or more companies operating at different levels of the production or distribution chain) are automatically excluded from competition law as long as they meet the conditions prescribed by VABER (and do not include so-called “hardcore” restrictions such as the fixing of the selling price (RPM) and territorial and customer restrictions that are inherently anti-competitive). The Commission`s services working paper is an important step in the EC`s review of the VBER and guidelines; it completes the evaluation phase and initiates the impact analysis phase during which the EC will take a closer look at the issues identified. A draft revised rules are expected to be published in public consultation in 2021 and the new rules will come into force on 31 May 2022 until the expiry of the existing ERV and existing guidelines. – Significant changes: The Commission proposes changes to existing legislation in the following areas: while the UK has left the EU, the proposed revision of the current VABER will be relevant to UK companies participating in vertical agreements with a potential or real impact on trade between EU Member States.
For companies operating only in the UK, the UK authorities have announced their intention – after the end of the transitional period on 31 December 2020 – to apply the current VABER until its expiry on 31 May 2022. It remains to be seen whether, after that date, the British authorities will take a similar approach to the EC with regard to a revised vABER-VABER commission. On 23 October 2020, the European Commission published an impact assessment for consultation, which examined possible policy options for the revision of Regulation 330/2010, the category exemption regulation for vertical agreements (“VABE”). This document has been in the works for two years, as the Commission has taken into account the views of manufacturers, brand owners, platform owners, distributors and trade associations. The new revised VABE will be a key document, as it will set out the nature of the distribution agreements that companies can adopt in the EU over the next ten years. It will also be very convincing for UK competition law after Brexit. The United Kingdom will have to decide whether the current VABE expires in 2022 (enshrined in UK legislation under the withdrawal legislation), whether a category exemption regulation for vertical agreements is to be adopted and, if so, under what conditions. The category exemption for vertical agreements (VABE) is one of the categories of category exemptions adopted by the European Commission to simplify the analysis needed to determine whether certain types of agreements meet the general exemption criteria set out in Article 101, paragraph 3. The VABE came into force in 2010 and expires on May 31, 2022.
It offers a “safe haven” for vertical agreements that meet certain criteria: – clarification and simplification of the rules: it will incorporate the most recent jurisprudence on the material conditions of Article 101, paragraph 3, and will fill the gaps in the rules that have led to divergent interpretations on the part of national competition authorities and the courts.