Antitrust: Commission invites comments on roadmap for the evaluation of rules on horizontal agreements

The European Commission is inviting comments on the roadmap for the evaluation of the “Horizontal Block Exemption Regulations” which exempt certain horizontal agreements from EU rules that prohibit anticompetitive agreements between companies. Such agreements between actual or potential competitors that operate at the same level of production or distribution in the market may restrict competition. In that case, they would be prohibited under EU antitrust rules, unless they create benefits that outweigh the harm to competition. The Horizontal Block Exemption Regulations define certain research and development and specialisation agreements that can be considered more beneficial than harmful, and are therefore allowed under antitrust rules. The Regulations will expire on 31 December 2022. The Commission has today taken the first step in the review process to help it determine whether the Regulations should lapse, be extended or amended. The review process will also include the existing guidelines on horizontal cooperation agreements. With the publication of the roadmap, the Commission is inviting stakeholders to comment on the purpose, consultation strategy, timing and methodology of the evaluation phase of the review process. Stakeholders can comment on the roadmap on the Commission’s Better Regulation Portal until 3 October 2019. Before the end of the year, the Commission also plans to launch a public consultation inviting stakeholders to comment on the functioning of the Horizontal Block Exemption Regulations.