Chairman: Filip Tuytschaever – partner at contrast, Brussels and Professor EU competition law at University of Brussel
Many novelties in the VBER and Vertical Guidelines aim to update the block exemption regime to the exponential growth of online sales in the last decade. Distribution is no longer a straight line from manufacturer via wholesalers and traditional offline retailers to end-users. Instead, manufacturers are increasingly adopting an omni-channel strategy, operating their own online shop in competition with their buyers, who in turn have brick stores and click stores, and end-users are switching between offline and online sales channels, and between online shops and online platforms. In this panel, DG COMP and Mrs. Leena Whittaker will each from their own (public resp. private) perspective discuss the novelties of new VBER regime for offline vs online sales.
More than ever suppliers compete with their own distribution network. The dual capacity of a supplier as supplier and competing seller downstream raises very practical competition law questions pertaining to the information which the parties may exchange. For the first time, the VBER and Vertical Guidelines contain guidance on information exchange in dual distribution scenarios. In the second panel discussion, DG COMP and Mrs. Caroline Khattar Bostrom will exchange thoughts on the novelties in dual distribution scenarios, both from a public and a private perspective.
Distribution partners are increasingly experimenting with a combination of independent distribution and agency, where the same person acts, for the same supplier, as independent distributor and as agent. The combination may be in the same product market (for example, for new or top-of-the-range product) or in different product markets (for example, agency for the primary product and independent distribution for aftersales). Dual role agency raises interesting competition law questions, which are addressed by this panel consisting of a public enforcer and a private practitioner.
As of 1 June 2022, the EU and the UK each have their own block exemption regime for vertical agreements. Mr. Ricardo Araujo will present the key differences between the VBER and the VABEO.
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