Antitrust: Commission launches public consultation on revision of the Horizontal Block Exemption Regulations and Guidelines

The European Commission has launched today a public consultation inviting all interested parties to comment on the revision of the R&D and Specialisation Block Exemption Regulations, known as the Horizontal Block Exemption Regulations, and accompanying Guidelines. Today’s consultation is part of the on-going review process initiated in September 2019 to ensure revised rules are in place when the current rules expire in December 2022. The public consultation in the form of an online questionnaire seeks views on the different policy options and additional proposals for revision outlined in the Inception Impact Assessment. The public consultation forms part of the impact assessment phase of the review that seeks to address the issues raised during the evaluation phase and to assess the impact of the policy options proposed by the Commission. The deadline for providing feedback is 5 October 2021. Following this, interested parties will have the possibility to provide their views on the draft revised rules that the Commission will publish for comments. The preceding evaluation phase showed that the rules on horizontal agreements between companies and the Horizontal Guidelines are useful tools for businesses. At the same time, the evaluation has identified several areas where the rules are not sufficiently adapted, in particular, in relation to digitisation and the pursuit of sustainability goals. The Staff Working Document concluded that legal certainty could be improved and the administrative supervision by national competition authorities and national courts could be simplified by addressing those areas. The online questionnaire is available here and more information about the review process can be found here.