If the agreement contains severe restrictions (see question 15), the safe port created by the vertical class exemption does not apply at all. This means that other lesser restrictions of the agreement, which would otherwise have benefited from the protection of the vertical category exemption, cannot benefit from such protection. To what extent are suppliers` market shares relevant in assessing the legality of individual restrictions? Are market positions and the behaviour of other suppliers relevant? Is it relevant to know whether certain types of restrictions imposed on suppliers are widespread in the marketplace? It should also be noted that, when agency agreements are concluded, EU staff can benefit from significant protection at Member State level through the EU Trade Agents Directive and enforcement measures that are completed under this Regulation. Who is responsible for enforcing anti-competitive vertical restrictions? Where are there several competent authorities, how are cases attributed? Do governments or ministers have a role to play? Has the Authority made any decisions regarding the steps taken by suppliers to enforce the terms of selective distribution agreements where such measures are aimed at preventing unauthorized buyers from being sold or sold by authorized buyers in an unauthorized manner? Five keys takeaways 1. The guidelines explain and specify current agency practices and do not mean a change in policy within agencies. 2. The guidelines recognize that vertical mergers often bring benefits to consumers, creating a promising way for companies to unlock antitrust legislation. 3. (…) What are the consequences of a breach of cartel rules and abuse of dominance on the validity or applicability of a contract with prohibited vertical restrictions? The Commission`s vertical class exemption provides a safe haven for certain agreements with vertical restrictions.
Safe port means that, where an agreement fulfils the conditions of the vertical category exemption, neither the Commission, nor the competition authorities, nor the jurisdictions of the Member States can find that the agreement is contrary to Article 101, unless a prior decision is taken (with a forward-looking effect) to “remove” the benefit of the vertical category exemption from the agreement. The explanatory notes of the new version of the vertical class exemption (adopted in 2010) also state that vertical agreements, provided that the relevant market share thresholds are not exceeded, can lead to “improvements in production or distribution (in the absence of significant restrictions) and allow consumers to enjoy a fair share of the benefits that flow from them.”