The European, Middle Eastern and African Antitrust Review 2018

European Union: Vertical Agreements

After years of relative disregard for vertical issues, essentially leaving them to national competition authorities (NCAs), the European Commission (the Commission) suddenly regained an interest in this particular field. This new trend has notably emerged from the various endeavours launched by the Commission in this area, be it the e-commerce sector inquiry, started in May 2015, or the recent opening of several investigations, as detailed below. The Commission is now consolidating the output of these endeavours, especially in relation to the e-commerce sector and cross-border sales, scrutinising and investigating the market with enhanced and continued pressure. Its ongoing investigations clearly signal that vertical restrictions, in particular when they relate to the ‘new economy', have become a topic of strong interest for the EU watchdog.

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