Informations and abstract
Keywords: vertical restraints, efficiency defence, e-commerce
The article describes the main changes that have been introduced by the European Commission in the new version of the Block Exemption Regulation related to vertical restraints (Regulation n. 330/2010) and the accompanying Guidelines. While the overall approach of Regulation n. 2790/1999 has been preserved, several important differences can nevertheless be found. First of all, the 30% market share threshold below which agreements are presumed not to be anticompetitive must now always be applied also to the buyer's side. Secondly, an efficiency defence is now permitted also in relation to the so-called hardcore restrictions. Finally, there are new provisions, albeit contained only in the Guidelines, that make harder for firms to implement vertical restraints in online commerce. According to the authors these are welcome changes that also reflect important market developments of the last decade, namely the increased concentration of the retailing industry and the growing importance of e-commerce. Nevertheless, probably the treatment of hardcore restrictions could have been further improved by devising a «de minimis» rule that would have exempted automatically agreements between small firms containing such provisions.