Regulation of the supplier-retailer commercial relationships: An overview of 17 European countries regimes

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This article presents the results of a survey carried out by the Competition Council for the mission chaired by Marie-Dominique Hagelsteen on the negotiability of general terms and conditions of sale. It shows that, despite concerns about the abuse of buying power sometimes allegedly committed by large distributors against some of their suppliers, no country, with the exception of Portugal and France, has per se prohibited discrimination between distributors. Such discriminatory practices are subject only to competition law, without this seeming to raise any particular difficulties or questions. In addition to discriminatory practices, the survey provides insight into the main aspects of the regulation of commercial relations between suppliers and distributors in European countries, in particular the provisions concerning abuse of buying power or resale at a loss (The tables appear in the pdf version of this article).

1. In October 2007, the French Ministry of the Economy set up a working group presided by the former President of the Conseil de la Concurrence, Marie-Dominique Hagelsteen, to investigate whether and how the current legislative ban on discriminatory practices should be lifted . To gather information upon the legislations of other industrialized countries, a questionnaire was devised by the economic service of the French Competition Council, which also considered other related practices such as below-cost pricing and abuses of buyer power. 2. The questionnaire summarized in the first column of table 1 was sent to all the competition authorities of the European Competition Network. Answers were received from the competition authorities of the following countries: Cyprus, Czech

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Etienne Pfister, Regulation of the supplier-retailer commercial relationships: An overview of 17 European countries regimes, September 2008, Concurrences N° 3-2008, Art. N° 21315,

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