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Antitrust: Commission publishes guidance on application of competition rules in car sector

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The European Commission has published a set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the application of EU antitrust rules in the motor vehicle sector. The FAQs provide stakeholders with guidance on how the Commission applies these rules, in particular in the markets for repair and maintenance services and spare parts.

“The FAQs are a practical guide that should be of particular help for SMEs and consumers”, said Joaquín Almunia, Commission Vice-President in charge of competition policy. “They aim at clarifying important issues regarding the competition rules in the car sector, which affect carmakers, dealers, spare parts suppliers, independent repairers and ultimately consumers”.

In May 2010, the Commission adopted a new Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation and accompanying Guidelines, concerning the application of EU antitrust rules to categories of agreements between vehicle manufacturers and their authorised dealers, repairers and spare parts distributors (see IP/10/619 and MEMO/10/217). Following requests from stakeholders and national competition authorities for further practical guidance on the application of the new rules, the Commission has now published a set of frequently asked questions.

The FAQs are based on input and queries received during the initial period of application of the new rules. They explain how the Commission approaches particular issues regarding six topics, namely (1) the honouring of warranties; (2) servicing in the context of leasing contracts; (3) the supply of spare parts; (4) the use and purchase of electronic diagnostic and repair tools; (5) access to technical information; and (6) access to authorised repairer networks. Particular attention is devoted, thus, to the motor vehicle aftermarkets, which tend to be less competitive than the markets for the sale of new cars.

The FAQs are available on the Commission's Competition Website at

http://ec.europa.eu/competition/sectors/motor_vehicles/legislation/legislation.html.

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