EU Antitrust Law: New Vertical Block Exemption Regulation and Vertical Guidelines

Overview


A new Vertical Block Exemption Regulation (“Vertical BER”) has entered into force on June 1, 2022. At the same time, the European Commission has reissued the accompanying Vertical Guidelines. These two instruments have become the essential legal framework for the antitrust-compliant design of supply agreements and any form of distribution systems, including commercial agency constellations. In particular, the areas of dual distribution, online distribution, so-called non-compete agreements (exclusive purchasing) and vertical price maintenance, which are particularly relevant in practice, have now been re-evaluated.

This newsletter provides an overview of the most important changes and clarifications. Transitional periods apply to agreements that will become illegal under the new Vertical Block Exemption Regulation. Vertical agreements in force before June 1, 2022 may have to be adapted by May 31, 2023. Vertical agreements concluded as of June 2022 will have to comply directly with the new Vertical Block Exemption Regulation. In our view, vertical agreements concluded before June 1, 2022, but which do not enter into force until after June 1, 2022, should still benefit from the transitional regime.