EU Commission announces review of competition rules to cope with digital market developments

The European Commission has announced a review of the Vertical Block Exemption Regulation, which exempts certain agreements and practices from the EU’s general competition rules. The purpose of the evaluation is to gather evidence on the functioning of the Regulation, allowing the Commission to determine whether it should let it lapse, prolong its duration or revise it in order to take proper account of new market developments since its adoption in 2010, notably the increased importance of online sales and the emergence of new market players such as online platforms. The review is expected to focus on certain issues flagged in 2017 by the Commission’s e-commerce inquiry such as price maintenance practices (including the use of price monitoring software), restrictions on cross-border sales (such as prohibiting or discouraging cross-border deliveries or payments), selective distribution practices (such as restrictions on use of on-line marketplaces) and dual distribution, where suppliers are in competition with their retailers. Feedback on the roadmap is requested by December 6.