Analysing vertical agreements under EU competition law

The following Competition practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Analysing vertical agreements under EU competition law
  • What are vertical agreements?
  • Assessment under Article 101 TFEU
  • Agreement
  • Development of European Commission policy on vertical restraints
  • When will a vertical infringement not infringe Article 101 TFEU?
  • No appreciable effect on competition
  • No effect on trade
  • Vertical Restraints Block Exemption and Guidelines
  • Distinction between restrictions on active and passive sales
  • More...

Analysing vertical agreements under EU competition law

This Practice Note is important first stage reading for analysing vertical restraints, that is, restrictions in vertical agreements caught by Article 101(1) TFEU (see The prohibition on restrictive agreements) under competition law. It covers the European Commission’s vertical restraints policy, the circumstances in which a vertical restraint will not infringe competition law and specific current issues arising in relation to the application of competition law where the principles are not yet settled.

This Practice Note makes frequent references to two legal instruments issued by the Commission that are designed to assist parties and their advisors in determining the compatibility of their arrangements with Article 101 TFEU, namely the Vertical Restraints Block Exemption (VRBE, Regulation 330/2010) and the Commission Guidelines on Vertical Restraints.

See further, Competition law and exclusive distribution agreements, Competition law and selective distribution, Competition law and agency, Competition law and franchise agreements, The Vertical Restraints Block Exemption .

What are vertical agreements?

Agreements and practices which appreciably restrict competition fall into two broad categories:

  1. high risk—anti-competitive agreements between competitors. Anti-competitive agreements between competitors are treated most severely under the competition rules. These are agreements made between companies at the same level in the supply chain (such as an agreement between two manufacturers of similar goods). They are commonly called ‘horizontal agreements’

  2. agreements between companies operating at different levels in the

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