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Exempted agreements (Article 101(3) TFEU)

Note to the reader: All references to Art 82 EC should be understood as references to the current article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (as renamed by the Treaty of Lisbon, which entered into force on 1 December 2009). More information on these changes.

Individual agreements

  • Communication from the Commission - Notice - Guidelines on the application of Article 81(3) of the Treaty BG, ES, DA, DE, EL, EN, FR, HR, IT, NL, PT, RO, FI, SV
    Official Journal C 101, 27.04.2004, p. 97-118

    and CS, ET, LV, LT, HU, MT, PL, SK, SL
    Official Journal C 373, 12.10.2016, p. 14

    Some restrictive agreements may generate objective economic benefits that outweigh the negative effects of the restriction of competition. Article 101(3) of the TFEU acknowledges that, and exempts those agreements of the prohibition of Article 101(1).

To satisfy Article 101(3), an agreement must satisfy four cumulative conditions:

  • It must contribute to improving the production or distribution of goods or contribute to promoting technical or economic progress,
  • Consumers must receive a fair share of the resulting benefits,
  • The restrictions must be indispensable to the attainment of these objectives, and
  • The agreement must not afford the parties the possibility of eliminating competition in respect of a substantial part of the products in question.

Article 101(3) can be applied in individual cases or to categories of agreements and concerted practices by way of block exemption regulation.

The 2004 guidelines set out the Commission's interpretation of the conditions for exception contained in Article 101(3) and provide guidance on how it will apply Article 101 in individual cases.

Agreements covered by block exemption regulations