The Vertical Restraints Block Exemption
Produced in partnership with Addleshaw Goddard

The following Competition practice note produced in partnership with Addleshaw Goddard provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • The Vertical Restraints Block Exemption
  • Background
  • Application
  • Vertical agreements
  • Market share thresholds
  • Hardcore restrictions
  • Excluded restrictions
  • Withdrawal of the VRBE
  • Non-application

The Vertical Restraints Block Exemption

The Vertical Restraints Block Exemption Regulation (VRBE, Regulation No 330/2010) defines a category of vertical agreements which the European Commission will normally regard as satisfying the conditions set out in Article 101(3) TFEU and will not therefore fall foul of Article 101 TFEU.

This Practice Note sets out the main provisions of the VRBE. It examines the relevant market share thresholds which the parties to an agreement must fall within to be exempt under the VRBE; sets out the hardcore restrictions contained within the VRBE, the inclusion of which result in the agreement falling foul of the VRBE; and discusses the excluded restrictions which will not be covered by the VRBE.

Finally, this Practice Note will look at what to consider if a vertical arrangement does not meet any of the conditions for the VRBE to apply.

Agreements that are not capable of appreciably affecting trade between Member States or appreciably restricting competition by object or effect are not caught by Article 101(1) TFEU and therefore fall outside the scope of the block exemption. These may, however, fall to be assessed under the Commission’s de minimis notice (see further, Appreciable restriction of competition).

A separate Practice Note covers the approach to vertical agreements under EU competition law more generally, see Analysing vertical agreements under competition law. For a Checklist setting out the key steps

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