Acuerdos verticales

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On February 4, the European Commission (“EC”) opened a public consultation that will run until May 27, asking for feedback on the future Vertical Block Exemption Regulation (the “Vertical Regulation”), which will replace the current regulation due to expire on May 31, 2022.

The consultation is of enormous practical importance for companies of all sizes across all sectors, as vertical agreements (signed by economic operators at varying stages of the chain of production or distribution) are fundamental to nearly the entire economy. They include agreements for exclusive supply and distribution, selective distribution, franchising, minimum purchase obligation, resale prices, geoblocking, and tying and bundling.

In addition, in the last decade, legal questions about these arrangements have multiplied due to the growing importance of online sales and the arrival of new business models, intermediaries and digital platforms whose scope of operations often spreads to direct sales, marketing and development, to the detriment of traditional manufacturers and sellers.

Both the EC and national competition authorities have played an active role in combating anti-competitive vertical agreements. Recently, we have covered EC cases on this blog, including the sanctioning of four electronics manufacturers for fixing resale prices for online distributors; investigations into Nike, Sanrio and Universal Studios for crossborder restraints on licensing and distribution of merchandising; and the sanction imposed on Guess for blocking crossborder sales and anticompetitive clauses in its selective distribution contracts with retailers. We also examined the French competition authorities’ sanctioning of the electrical tool manufacturer Stihl for a de facto ban on authorized dealers from selling its products online and imposing the requirement of hand-delivery of goods. There is no question that regulatory compliance in this area is both increasingly important and, at times, increasingly complex.

As such, the purpose of the consultation is to collect opinions from stakeholders. This will allow the EC to determine whether it should let the regulation expire, extend or review it to take account developments in the market since it came into force in 2010. Submissions to the consultation will be evaluated according to their effectiveness, efficiency, relevant, coherence and European added value.

Click here to access the submissions form. Alternatively, you can email COMP-VBER-REVIEW@ec.europa.eu. Stakeholders can make submissions in any official EU language, and they may be made anonymously by simply indicating an email address.

Once the submissions to the consultation have been analyzed, an open workshop will be organized for stakeholders throughout the fourth quarter of 2019 in Brussels. A series of structured dialogs with competition authorities from EU Member States will also take place, under the auspices of the European Competition Network working group.

If all the stages of legislative scrutiny are completed as planned, it is anticipated that the EC will adopt the new Vertical Regulation in the second half of 2020.

 

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Autores:

Socio

31 artículos

Es socio del Grupo de Competencia y Derecho de la UE de la Firma en Madrid. Previamente, trabajó en Londres, como barrister, y en Bruselas, como asociado en uno de los más reconocidos despachos a nivel mundial. Está especializado en derecho de defensa de la competencia comunitario y español. Cuenta con una gran experiencia en control de concentraciones (notificaciones de compraventa de empresas, fusiones y acuerdos de joint venture), en el asesoramiento relacionado con investigaciones de las autoridades de defensa de la competencia y la gestión de riesgos de este tipo (incluyendo el diseño, la planificación y la ejecución de auditorías y códigos de cumplimiento, así como formación de empleados y directivos) así como en ayudas de estado y otras cuestiones de derecho comunitario.

andrew.ward@cuatrecasas.com

Consejera

27 artículos

Especialista en acuerdos de distribución y abusos de posición dominante, asesora regularmente a importantes multinacionales y fondos de inversión en materia de control de concentraciones, tanto a nivel español como comunitario, asumiendo su representación ante las instancias administrativas. Ha representado y asesorado con éxito a numerosos clientes ante las autoridades españolas en materia de defensa de la competencia, en los dos ámbitos administrativo y contencioso (acuerdos, abusos, concentraciones, ayudas públicas).

irene.moreno@cuatrecasas.com

Prácticas

19 artículos



joaquim.candel@cuatrecasas.com

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