Art. 101(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“the Treaty”) prohibits anticompetitive agreements between undertakings unless they fulfil the conditions contained in Art. 101(3) of the Treaty (i.e., they present efficiencies and allow consumers a fair share of the resulting benefits). Council Regulation (EEC) 19/65 enables the Commission to apply Art. 101(3) of the Treaty by regulation to certain categories of vertical agreements and corresponding concerted practices falling within Art. 101(1) of the Treaty for which it can be assumed with sufficient certainty that they satisfy the conditions of Art. 101(3) of the Treaty. The Commission has made use of this power by adopting general as well as sector-specific measures.
Since 1 June 2013, Commission Regulation (EU) No 330/2010 of 20 April 2010 on the application of Article 101(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to categories of vertical agreements and concerted practices (the “VBER”) has been applicable to agreements for the distribution of new motor vehicles. Since 1 June 2022, Regulation (EU) No 330/2010 has been replaced by Regulation (EU) 2022/720. Agreements relating to the sale or resale of spare parts for motor vehicles or the provision of repair and maintenance services for motor vehicles are subject to the Commission Regulation (EU) No 461/2010 (the "Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation"). The Commission also adopted a Notice providing guidance on the interpretation of this Regulation ("Supplementary Guidelines on vertical restraints in agreements for the sale and repair of motor vehicles and for the distribution of spare parts for motor vehicles").
The Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation mandates the Commission to draw up an evaluation report on its operation by 31 May 2021, in view of its expiry on 31 May 2023.
The evaluation was launched on 3 December 2018 and its progress can be followed on the Commission’s Better Regulation Portal. The evaluation built on several sources: (i) a public consultation which ran from 12 October 2020 to 25 January 2021 (summary of the contributions); (ii) a consultation with the National Competition Authorities (summary of their contributions); (iii) an external fact-finding study; and (iv) the monitoring and enforcement experience of the Commission in the sector over the past decade.
The purpose of the evaluation was to gather facts and evidence on the functioning of the Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation (including the application of Commission Regulation (EU) No 330/2010 to the motor vehicle sector), along with the corresponding Guidelines, notably by verifying the extent to which its objectives are fulfilled. The evaluation was based on the following criteria: effectiveness, efficiency, relevance, coherence and EU added value.
On 28 May 2021, the Commission adopted the Evaluation Report on the operation of the Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation. The Evaluation Report was accompanied by a Staff Working Document.
Policy making phase
Upon the publication of the findings of the evaluation, the Commission started the policy-making stage of the review, in order to decide by 31 May 2023 the future of the current regime.
To this effect, between 6 July and 30 September 2022, the Commission ran a stakeholder consultation and a call for evidence to get feedback on the (i) draft Regulation prolonging the Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation for five years and the (ii) draft Communication amending the Supplementary Guidelines. A synopsis report of the contributions received is available here.
In April 2023, the Commission adopted the Regulation prolonging the Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation until 31 May 2028 and the Communication amending the Supplementary Guidelines. A synopsis report on the consultation activities conducted during the policy making phase of the review is available here.
Directorate-General for Competition – Unit E.2 – Antitrust: Consumer goods, Basic industries, Agriculture and Manufacturing
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Directorate-General for Competition