The new block exemption for vertical agreements

Under Article 101, para 1 TFEU all agreements which are likely to confine competition within the European common market are prohibited.
According to para 3 leg such agreements will be valid under the AEUV if they outweigh the benefits for consumers; in addition the European Council or the Commission may exclude by issuing a regualtion certain categories of agreements, which typically meet the exceptions in Art 101 para 3 TFEU from the prohibition of Article 101, para 1 TFEU. Agreements conforming to such block exemptions are in general harmless to competitive law.
The block exemption for vertical agreements1 provides that companies with a market share to 30% may in principle agree on anticompetitive  agreements, if no core limitations as defined  in Article  4 or any other constraints as listed in Article 5 are affected.
According to the new block exemptions for vertical agreements not only  the market position of providers have to be taken into account but also those of the buyers, therefore, the market share of the provider and the market share of the buyer must not be greater than 30%.
It also new that the European Commission outlines in its guidelines2 for the first time possible circumstances under which resale price maintenance (which would basically avoid the effectiveness of the whole agreement since it is a core limitation) would be considered justifiable. This would be possible if the parties to the agreement can lead back efficiency gains to a vertical price-fixing.


1 ABl L 2010/102, 1

2 ABl C 2010/130, 1