On October 12, 2020, the European Commission opened a public consultation to assess whether the objectives of Commission Regulation (EU) No. 461/2010 of May 27, 2010 on the application of Article 101(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to categories of vertical agreements and concerted practices in the motor vehicle sector (the “MVBER”) have been achieved.
Since 2010 the legislative framework applying to motor vehicles (a motor vehicle is defined under Article 1(1)(g) of the MVBER as “a self-propelled vehicle intended for use on public roads and having three or more road wheels”) is represented by EU Regulation No. 461/2010 together with EU Regulation No. 330/2010 (the general Vertical Block Exemption Regulation: “VBER”). As per Articles 3 and 4 of the MVBER, the VBER has applied to after-sales agreements since June 2010 and to motor vehicle distribution since June 2013. However, in 2010, in addition to adopting the Guidelines accompanying the VBER, the EU Commission also adopted Supplementary Guidelines on vertical restraints in agreements for the sale and repair of motor vehicles and for the distribution of spare parts for motor vehicles (“Supplementary Guidelines” or “SG”), with a view to providing guidance for interpreting specific aspects of the MVBER in the after-sale market.
The MVBER is expected to expire on May 31, 2023, and in view of that the Commission has to prepare an evaluation report on its operation by May 31, 2021 to determine whether to extend its duration, revise it, or let it expire.
The evaluation process covers the overall legislative framework applying to the motor vehicle sector (the VBER, the MVBER, the Vertical Guidelines, and the SG) with the purpose of assessing the performance of these rules, based on the following criteria: 1) effectiveness (evaluating whether the objectives been met); 2) efficiency (in terms of reasonable and proportionate costs/benefits); 3) relevance (aimed at evaluating whether the objectives of the rules still correspond to current needs); 4) coherence (in terms of consistency with other EU rules); 5) EU added value (assessing objectives achieved compared to action taken only at the national level).
The purpose of the consultation process is to gather information and views from stakeholders in order to assess whether and to what extent the objectives of the Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation have been met. Based on the Commission’s experience, the stakeholder groups interested in the evaluation process are (i) undertakings with business operations in the EU motor vehicle sector, notably vehicle manufacturers and dealers, spare parts manufacturers, (authorized and independent) distributors, and (authorized and independent) repairers; (ii) associations thereof; (iii) consumer organizations; and (iv) academics with a focus on EU competition law and particularly on the motor vehicle sector. Further to the above, the process will be open to any other stakeholder with a possible interest in the subject.
The public consultation will close on January 25, 2021; the questionnaire for public consultation is available here.