The Commission has issued a new Notice on agreements of minor
importance (the "de minimis" rules). As a result, many agreements
between smaller companies and those with a small market share will
no longer need to be notified.
Article 85 prohibits agreements which distort or
may distort competition. Agreements which potentially infringe
Article 85 must be notified to the Commission unless they benefit
either from block exemption or are within the de minimis rules.
By extending the scope of the de minimis rules, the
Commission hopes to free up time and to assess those deals with a
greater effect on the single market.
The main changes to the notice are:
- the abolition of the ECU 300m (£204m) threshold for turnover
involved in any agreement;
- the existing 5% market share is to be increased to 10% for
vertical deals (ie. operating between different levels in the
market) while the market share for horizontal deals (between
companies at the same level in the market) will be 5%; and
- there will be a black list of restrictive clauses which will
not be tolerated (even where the agreement is within the threshold
-horizontal agreements intended to fix prices, limit production or
sales or divide up supply sources; and
-vertical agreements for fixing resale prices or giving territorial
protection for contracting companies or third parties.