CONFERENCE : DISTRIBUTION - E-COMMERCE - COMPETITION POLICY - VERTICAL RESTREINTS

Online distribution: Are the rules now set? (New Frontiers of Antitrust - Paris, 11 June 2018)

The steady growth of e-commerce continues to change the competitive landscape in which traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers operate. It is undeniable that this rapid growth is putting immense pressure on traditional retailers. Competition policies may have unwittingly accentuated the crisis of the traditional retail sector, rendering unlawful (and thus unavailable) many of the tools used by manufacturers and retailers to maintain or regain control over the sales of their products online. Vertical restraints and selective distribution systems, in particular, play a key role in allowing retailers to manage online distribution of their products. Despite attempts of the ECJ and of the NCAs to clarify the relationship between online restraints and competition law, it is likely that vertical agreements in online markets will remain a hot topic for the coming decades.

The shifting sands of online distribution Mark Powell [1] Partner, White & Case, Brussels/London I. Introduction 1. The European retail environment is in a state of turmoil. The steady growth of e-commerce has dramatically changed the competitive landscape in which traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers operate, increasing price competition and introducing a near-perfect knowledge within some sectors. According to Eurostat, 68% of internet users in the EU shopped online in 2017, with peaks of 80% in e-commerce-friendly Member States such as the United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. [2] 2. The rapid development of e-commerce reflects a global trend. However, the expansion of e-commerce in the EU is also a result of the policies of the

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Mark D. Powell, Online distribution: Are the rules now set? (New Frontiers of Antitrust - Paris, 11 June 2018), September 2018, Concurrences Review N° 3-2018, Art. N° 87844, www.concurrences.com

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