Vertical Restraints And Distribution Agreements Under Eu Competition Law
The Commission`s vertical guidelines do not distinguish between different types of online distribution channels, but they do contain some guidance on the use of third-party platforms. The vertical guidelines specify that a supplier may require, particularly in a selective distribution context, that buyers use third-party platforms only in accordance with the standards and conditions agreed between the buyer and the supplier for the purchaser`s use of the Internet. A supplier may also require customers not to visit the buyer`s website via a website that bears the name or logo of a third-party platform when the buyer`s website is hosted by the same third-party platform. However, no decision has been taken to date with regard to the Commission`s vertical restrictions, distinguishing the different types of online sales channels. However, the Commission`s current investigation into consumer electronics and the appliance sector may look at differences in the treatment of different types of online sales channels (see question 32). The Commission`s investigation into Amazon`s e-book business, opened in June 2015 and concluded with a commitment decision in May 2017, focused on differences in the way online distribution channels are handled. The investigation focused on Amazon`s contractual rights to be informed of different or more favourable terms offered by publishers to competing online platforms and to offer at least as favourable terms. In January 2017, the Commission launched a consultation on Amazon`s proposed commitments to end the contentious practices and the Commission formally accepted Amazon`s commitments in May 2017. The European Commission has also published guidelines on vertical restrictions. It describes the approach of vertical agreements that are not covered by the regulation. While the Commission continues to actively apply its rules on vertical restrictions, particularly in the automotive sector, it is fair to say that market liberalisation, the reduction of anti-competitive state aid and the fight against cartels have been higher priorities for implementation in recent years. Since operators often organise distribution at national level within each Member State, national and EU rules on cartels and abuse of dominant position regarding distribution by competition authorities have been adopted more frequently at Member State level than by the Commission.