Vertical Agreements Safe Harbour

The vertical block exemption assumes that the agreement in question is vertical (i.e. the parties operate at different levels of the market “for the purposes of the agreement”). Parties to an agreement that compete in other product markets, but not in the contract product market, may benefit from the vertical block exemption, unless they are both “potential real competitors” in the market that includes the contract products. This is an area on which the Commission is focusing. Restrictions that prevent a buyer from selling contract products from one EU Member State to another may be one of the most serious breaches of Article 101. Such agreements are subject to enhanced scrutiny by the Commission, which aims to eliminate the EU, to restore the divisions between national markets that the EU wants to lift.