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EuroCommerce welcomes competition exemption for small retailers


22 Apr 2010


Trade & Society

EuroCommerce welcomes the revision of the 10 year old block exemption regulation (BER)[1] on vertical restraints. This regulation and its accompanying guidelines have proven beneficial to companies by providing a legal framework which is more predictable and understandable. EuroCommerce agrees that it was necessary to continue on the same route. Nevertheless, EuroCommerce has some reservations on the detail of the regulation and guidelines. 

The old BER exempted agreements by manufacturers with a market share of less than 30%, provided there were no ‘hardcore’ breaches of competition law. The original proposal was that this threshold should apply to market share in the potential selling market. However, the distribution sector pointed out that this would pose serious problems of economic assessment by economic operators. EuroCommerce applauds the final, more sensible, approach of the new regulation to apply the 30% threshold only to the market where the retailer buys goods. 

However, EuroCommerce must still regret that the rule of a €50 million maximum turnover for associations of undertakings has been maintained from the 1999 BER. This restriction will prevent a number of organisations of small shops from benefitting from the exemption in negotiating collective agreements. 

EuroCommerce also warns that small shops, with little market power, may have distribution agreements forced upon them by bigger operators since ‘tacit acquiescence’ by one of the parties will be sufficient to establish the validity of an agreement. 

The new regulation makes long-needed changes to rules for online sales. Manufacturers will not longer be able to limit the quantity of goods sold or charge higher online prices. However we regret that the opportunity to clarify rules on upfront access payments and category management has been missed.

While EuroCommerce supports the Commission’s continued ban on retail price maintenance (RPM), we welcome the inclusion of an element of flexibility in the new Regulation. It allows the setting of a minimum resale price for a short-term for promotional purposes, or for launching a new product. While this short-tem use can bring significant benefits, it must remain exceptional and not become a usual practice.

Patrice Pellegrino

Senior Adviser on Internal Market

T:+32 2 737 05 85

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Elen Guédès

Assistant Public Affairs & Communications, Payment Systems and ICT


Avenue des Nerviens 9-31, B-1040 Brussels

T: +32 2 738 06 40, F: +32 2 230 00 78 


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