Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

Archive for December 9th, 2009

Lost in Semantics

with 4 comments

Pursuing the Lost in” post series initiated a few weeks ago, and chasing possible inconsistencies in EU competition law, I recently noticed that Regulation 2658/2000 and its accompanying set of Guidelines on Horizontal Cooperation Agreements use a different wording to regulate the – almost – same categories of horizontal agreements.

Regulation 2658/2000 block exempts “specialisation agreements“. This expression is in turn defined under Article 1 of the Regulation. Pursuant to this provision, specialisation agreements cover:

“(a) unilateral specialisation agreements; or (b) reciprocal specialisation agreements; or (c) joint production agreements”.

Now, let’s turn to the Guidelines. At §§78 and following, the Guidelines refer generally to “production agreements” rather than to “specialisation agreements“. This, in and of itself, is already slightly confusing as what was a sub-example in the Regulation (see (c) above), becomes a generic type of agreements. The Guidelines further blur the dividing lines defined in the Regulation in stating that  “production agreements” cover (§79):

Joint production agreements; … unilateral or reciprocal specialisation agreements; … and subcontracting agreements (emphasis added)”…

The bottom line: messy semantics do not make good law.

(Image possibly subject to copyrights. Source here)

Written by Nicolas Petit

9 December 2009 at 2:10 am

Posted in Uncategorized