Originally published as Covington E-Alert on April 27, 2010

 On 20 April 2010, the European Commission published new rules governing so-called “vertical” agreements, such as distribution and supply agreements. The new rules are set out in the Vertical Restraints Block Exemption Regulation and the related Guidelines (see DG Competition’s website). They will become effective as of 1 June 2010 for new agreements and as of 1 June 2011 for existing agreements. This gives companies with distribution agreements in the European Union little time to bring their agreements into line with the new rules.

Below, we highlight the key changes and their practical impact on the operations and agreements of companies operating within the European Union. The principal changes to be aware of concern the promotion and sale of products online, as the new Guidelines clarify how the general rules apply in the online context. Additionally, suppliers must now consider the market shares of their customers, as the new rules address the anticompetitive effects caused by strong buyers. Finally, suppliers now have more options to specifically tailor their distribution systems to their needs, due to the additional clarity and sophistication of the new rules.

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Photo of Miranda Cole Miranda Cole

Miranda Cole is a partner based in the firm’s Brussels office.  She practices competition and communications law and policy, and has more than 15 years of experience in the field.  Ms. Cole’s competition law expertise encompasses merger control, actions under Articles 101 and…

Miranda Cole is a partner based in the firm’s Brussels office.  She practices competition and communications law and policy, and has more than 15 years of experience in the field.  Ms. Cole’s competition law expertise encompasses merger control, actions under Articles 101 and 102 TFEU, advisory work and actions before the European courts in Luxembourg.

She has particular expertise in advising companies active in the technology and communications sectors in complex and strategic regulatory and policy matters, with particular expertise regarding the impact of evolving regulatory frameworks on new technologies and services.  In the communications sector she has extensive experience advising in connection with all aspects of European and international regulation, policy and competition law, and counselling in connection with the impact of regulation on transactions.

Photo of Jetty Tielemans Jetty Tielemans

Henriette (“Jetty”) Tielemans is co-chair of the firm’s Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Practice Group and a member of the European Advisory Board of the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP).  Ms. Tielemans was selected by the European Commission in Brussels to join the…

Henriette (“Jetty”) Tielemans is co-chair of the firm’s Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Practice Group and a member of the European Advisory Board of the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP).  Ms. Tielemans was selected by the European Commission in Brussels to join the five member team of the Commission’s expert group on privacy (GEXPD group).  She advises multinationals on all aspects of data privacy and data security at the EU and Member State level, and has assisted several companies with their compliance and international data transfer issues.