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Brussels, 9th February 2009

Antitrust: Commissioner Kroes hosts roundtable to discuss future of the Car Block Exemption Regulation

European Commissioner for Competition Neelie Kroes held a roundtable discussion on 9th February at the European Commission's Brussels headquarters to discuss the future of the block exemption Regulation that applies to motor vehicle sales and servicing. Participants included leading figures from all the main stakeholder groups, including consumers, car manufacturers, dealers, roadside assistance operators and independent repairers. The current Regulation is due to expire in 2010 and Commissioner Kroes organised this roundtable to have an informal discussion about the issues and how any change or maintenance of the current Regulation would affect the different categories of operators in the car sector.

Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes reacted positively to the discussion, saying "It is clear that there are divergent views as to whether general or specific rules should apply to the sector, and as to what the content of those rules should be. I believe that today's meeting exposed the key issues, both as regards the need to respond to the immediate crisis, and the need to lay down a clear and solid framework for the medium-term. We will now design our future policy to take account of the contributions from stakeholders, with a view to releasing a Commission Communication on the subject.

Those attending the roundtable were:

Mr François Augnet Vice President, Aftermarket Europe & Asia Pacific, TRW

Mr Patrick Blain Executive Vice President Sales and Marketing, Renault

Mr Simon Bullman Head of the Eponymous dealer group

Mr Gérard Damski Chief Executive of Belron Europe & Australasia

Ms Sophie Desormière Group Product Marketing Director, Valeo

Mr Trevor Finn CEO Pendragon Plc

Mr Robert Hanser President Automotive Aftermarket, Bosch

Mr David Kirke Executive Director European Sales Operations, GM

Mr Werner Kraus Vice President of the FIA

Mr Maurice Smit Proprietor of Garage W.W. Smit BV

Mr Franz van Heck Chairperson of the Board of Van Heck Group

Mr Olivier Veyrier Director General PGA

Dr Annette Winkler Vice President Europe, Daimler

Mr Paolo Martinello President of BEUC, the European Consumers' Organisation.

Block exemptions create safe harbours for categories of agreements, relieving the contracting parties from the need to individually analyse those agreements to see whether they fall foul of EU rules on restrictive business practices (Article 81). The motor vehicle block exemption Regulation puts in place such a safe harbour for car and commercial vehicle distribution and servicing agreements, and follows the Commission's modern effects-based approach, according to which policy is driven by a careful analysis of how competition actually works on a given market.

Commissioner Kroes' closing remarks to the roundtable are available in SPEECH/09/45.

The issues paper that formed the basis for the discussion, together with a record of the proceedings, will be available at:

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