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Policy Paper


Review of the Vertical Block Exemption Regulation

Policy field

Competition: Antitrust


Art. 101(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“the Treaty”) prohibits agreements between undertakings that restrict competition unless they contribute to improving the production or distribution of goods or services or to promoting technical or economic progress, while allowing consumers a fair share of the resulting benefits, in accordance with Art. 101(3) of the Treaty. The prohibition of Art. 101(1) of the Treaty covers amongst others agreements entered into between two or more undertakings operating at different levels of the production or distribution chain, and relating to the conditions under which the parties may purchase, sell or resell certain goods or services, so-called vertical agreements.

The purpose of the review is to allow the Commission to determine whether it should let the Regulation lapse, prolong its duration or revise it.

According to Better Regulation Principles, the procedure is divided in two steps: (i) an evaluation phase and (ii) an impact assessment phase.

The objective of the evaluation phase (approx. 18 months) is to gather evidence on the functioning of the current Vertical Block Exemption Regulation and the accompanying Guidelines on Vertical Restraints. In line with the Better Regulation Principles, this evaluation will be based on five evaluation criteria: effectiveness, efficiency, relevance, coherence and EU added value. The evaluation phase includes a public consultation process allowing interested stakeholders to provide feedback and contribute suggestions. It will also take account of information gathered by the Commission during the E-Commerce Sector Inquiry, the results of which are summarised in the final report of 10 May 2017, and the Commission's recent case practice with regard to vertical restraints. It will also draw on the considerable experience of national competition authorities with enforcing the EU competition rules in this area as well as relevant European and national case law.

The objective of the impact assessment phase (approx. 24 months) is to inform and support the decision of the Commission to determine whether it should let the Regulation lapse, prolong its duration or revise it on the basis of the evidence gathered during the evaluation phase. It will verify the existence of any problem related to the current functioning of the Vertical Block Exemption Regulation identified during the evaluation phase, explore the underlying causes, assess whether EU action is needed, and analyse the advantages and disadvantages of available solutions.

Reference documents

Current legislation applicable to vertical agreements.

The consultation strategy document for the evaluation of the Vertical Block Exemption Regulation.

Evaluation phase

The evaluation phase was launched on 3 October 2018 and its progress can be followed on the Website of better regulation

The evaluation roadmap was published on 8/11/2018. The deadline for stakeholders' feedback expired on 6/12/2018.

The public consultation was launched on 4/02/2019. The deadline for stakeholders to fill in the questionnaire expired on 27/05/2019.

Note that the questionnaire was slightly amended on 05/04/2019 following up on the feedback received by respondents pointing to possible un-clarity of some questions. The following amendments have been made. They are relevant only for respondents that are companies/business organisations. One question has been added: “Please estimate the percentage of your company’s annual turnover generated by direct sales to consumers (i.e. sales to final customers who consume the good/service) and by indirect sales (i.e. sales to third party intermediaries, such as distributors and wholesalers): ”The two subsequent questions (asking for the online and offline sales split and the percentages of online sales via third party websites) have been clarified by adding the specification of “direct” sales. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

1. Results of the public consultation

164 stakeholders have filled in the questionnaire. Their replies are available on the Better Regulation webpage.

Some of the stakeholders have attached annexes to their replies.

13 position papers were also sent by stakeholders to the Commission in the context of the public consultation.

Factual summary of the contributions received in the context of the open public consultation on the evaluation of the Vertical Block Exemption Regulation

2. Contributions outside the public consultation

RBB Economics “The effects of vertical restraints and online sales in the cosmetics industry”, A report for Cosmetics Europe

Position paper by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the Bundeskartellamt de en

Letter from the Benelux countries fr en

Submission by the International Distribution Institute ("IDI") en

Submission by EMISA en

Submission by AECDR en

3. Contributions of the NCAs to the evaluation of the VBER and the VGL

Summary of the contributions of the National Competition Authorities to the evaluation of the Vertical Block Exemption Regulation

4. Stakeholder workshop

Summary of the Vertical Block Exemption Regulation Evaluation WorkshopAnnex I and Annex II to the summary

5. Evaluation support study

Support studies for the evaluation of the Vertical Block Exemption Regulation (version updated with executive summaries in DE and FR of the study on consumer purchasing behaviour in Europe)

Personal data and privacy

The European Union is committed to user privacy. When carrying out public consultations we adhere to the policy on 'protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by the Community institutions', based on Regulation 45/2001 on processing of personal data by the EU institutions.

Further information on the protection of your personal data

Contact details

Responsible services:

Directorate-General for Competition – Unit A.1 - Antitrust Case Support and Policy.
Please always indicate the reference number in your correspondence: HT. 5455

E-Mail adress:

Postal address:

European Commission
Directorate-General for Competition
1049 Brussels

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