Exclusivity Agreements Eu Competition Law

Exclusivity Agreements: What You Need To Know About EU Competition Law

Exclusivity agreements can be a powerful tool for businesses looking to protect their interests and secure their market position. However, these agreements can also be a source of contention, particularly when they run afoul of EU competition law.

What is an Exclusivity Agreement?

An exclusivity agreement is a legal contract that restricts one or both parties from engaging in certain activities with third parties. These can include agreements between suppliers and distributors, franchise agreements, non-compete clauses in employment contracts, and more.

Exclusivity agreements can offer many benefits, such as ensuring a steady stream of revenue for suppliers or distributors, protecting valuable trade secrets, and preventing competitors from gaining a foothold in a particular market.

However, these advantages often come at a cost. Exclusivity agreements can limit competition and innovation, potentially leading to higher prices and reduced consumer choice.

Exclusivity Agreements and EU Competition Law

When it comes to exclusivity agreements, businesses must be mindful of EU competition law. Under EU law, exclusivity agreements are subject to strict scrutiny to ensure that they don`t harm competition in the marketplace.

The European Commission has taken a tough stance on exclusivity agreements, particularly in cases where they may restrict competition or abuse a dominant market position. In 2019, the Commission fined a major pharmaceutical company €444 million for using an exclusivity agreement to restrict competition in the market for a certain type of medication.

As a result, businesses need to ensure that their exclusivity agreements don`t violate EU competition law. This can be a complex task, as the law is constantly evolving, and the specifics of each agreement will depend on the particular circumstances.

Some general guidelines to keep in mind include:

– Ensure that the exclusivity agreement is necessary to achieve a legitimate business objective, such as protecting trade secrets or maintaining quality standards.

– Ensure that the agreement is proportionate to the business objective and doesn`t unnecessarily restrict competition.

– Consider whether there are less restrictive alternatives available that would achieve the same objective.

– Be aware of any market dominance that may give rise to concerns under EU competition law.


Exclusivity agreements can be a valuable tool for businesses looking to protect their interests in the marketplace. However, they must be mindful of EU competition law and ensure that their agreements don`t restrict competition or abuse a dominant market position.

By keeping these guidelines in mind, businesses can create effective and legal exclusivity agreements that protect their interests while promoting competition and innovation in the marketplace.