European Commission publishes consultation to assist in its evaluation of EU competition rules on horizontal agreements

In September 2019, the European Commission published a Roadmap to evaluate Regulation 1217/2010/EU on the application of Article 101(3) of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union (TFEU) to certain categories of research and development agreements, and Regulation 1218/2010/EC on specialisation agreements (the Horizontal Block Exemption Regulations). The Roadmap also covered an evaluation of the Commission’s Guidelines on the applicability of Article 101 of the Treaty to horizontal co-operation agreements.

The Commission sought feedback on its Roadmap, and the response period closed on 3 October 2019.

The Commission then conducted a mapping exercise relying on its experience with enforcing Article 101 of the Treaty and the feedback received on the Roadmap for the evaluation of the two Horizontal Block Exemption Regulations.

The outcome of the mapping exercise pointed to several stakeholder groups interested in the evaluation of the two Horizontal Block Exemption Regulations. These groups are expected to be: (i) companies with business operations in the EU (in various sectors of the economy, including both companies that carry out research and development activities and companies that engage in production of goods); (ii) industry associations; (iii) law firms and economic consultancies advising companies on related competition issues; (iv) consumer organisations; and (v) academics with a focus on EU competition law and notably on horizontal cooperation agreements.

Accordingly, the Commission has now published a public consultation to assist in its evaluation of the two Horizontal Block Exemption Regulations by collect evidence and views from stakeholders. The Commission says that the evaluation will allow it to determine whether it should let the Horizontal Block Exemption Regulations lapse, prolong their duration or revise them, together with the Horizontal Guidelines.

The consultation closes on 12 February 2020. To access the consultation, click here.