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Exemption for specialisation agreements

This regulation provides a block exemption for specialisation agreements and, in doing so, aims to ensure effective protection of competition and provide adequate legal security for the parties to specialisation agreements.

ACT

Commission Regulation (EU) No 1218/2010 of 14 December 2010 on the application of Article 101(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to certain categories of specialisation agreements.

SUMMARY

Article 101(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) is not applicable to specialisation agreements * (including joint production agreements), provided the agreement does not contain any hardcore restrictions of competition and the parties' combined market share does not exceed 20 %. The exemption provided for in Regulation (EEC) No 2821/71 also extends to specialisation agreements containing provisions relating to the assignment or licensing of intellectual property rights so long as those provisions are not the primary object of such agreements, but are instead directly related to and necessary for their implementation. Moreover, this regulation also provides an exemption where the parties accept exclusive purchase or supply obligations or jointly distribute the products they manufacture under a specialisation or joint production agreement.

Market share is calculated on the basis of the market sales value or, if that data is not available, then estimates based on other reliable market information may be used to establish the market share of the parties. If, after a certain time, the market share exceeds the 20 % threshold but remains below 25 %, the exemption continues to apply for two years. However, if the market share rises over 25 %, the exemption only applies for the following one year.

Hardcore restrictions

The exemption does not apply to specialisation agreements aimed, directly or indirectly, at:

  • the fixing of prices;
  • the limitation of output or sales;
  • the allocation of markets or customers.
Key terms used in the act
  • Specialisation agreement:
    1. unilateral specialisation agreement: an agreement between two parties which are active on the same product market by virtue of which one party agrees to fully or partly cease production of certain products or to refrain from producing those products and to purchase them from the other party, who agrees to produce and supply those products;
    2. reciprocal specialisation agreement: an agreement between two or more parties which are active on the same product market, by virtue of which two or more parties on a reciprocal basis agree to fully or partly cease or refrain from producing certain but different products and to purchase these products from the other parties, who agree to produce and supply them;
    3. joint production agreement: an agreement by virtue of which two or more parties agree to produce certain products jointly.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into force – Date of expiryDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Regulation (EU) No 1218/2010

1.1.2011 – 31.12.2022

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OJ L 335, 18.12.2010

Last updated: 25.05.2011
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