The primary objective of standardization agreements is to define technical or quality requirements that current or future products, production processes, services or methods can meet. Standardization agreements can cover different themes, such as standardization. B of different qualities or sizes of a product or technical specifications in product or service markets, where compatibility and interoperability with other products or systems are essential. Conditions for access to a particular label or approval by a supervisory body may also be considered standard. Agreements on environmental performance standards for products or production processes are also covered by this chapter. This chapter focuses on group purchase agreements for products. Joint purchases can be made by a jointly controlled company, by a company in which many other companies hold non-dominant shares, by a contractual agreement or by an even more flexible form of cooperation (collectively called “common purchase agreements”). Joint purchasing agreements are generally designed to create purchasing power that can lead to lower prices or higher quality products or services for consumers. However, in certain circumstances, purchasing power may also raise competition concerns. There are different types of subcontracts. Horizontal subcontracts are concluded between companies operating in the same product market, whether they are real or potential competitors. Vertical subcontracts are concluded between companies operating at different market levels.
With regard to vertical agreements, the main exemption by EU category is the category exemption for vertical agreements, which excludes many vertical agreements from the prohibitions covered in Chapter I and Article 101 (see exemption by category for vertical agreements). The assessment of the restrictive effect of competition within the meaning of Article 101, paragraph 1, of a horizontal cooperation agreement must be made in relation to the actual legal and economic context in which, without agreement with all its so-called restrictions (i.e. in the absence of the agreement in its current form (if it is already implemented) or as foreseen (if not yet implemented) , competition would take place at the time of appreciation. Therefore, in order to demonstrate real or potential restrictive effects, competition between the parties and competition by third parties, including actual or potential competition that would have existed in the absence of the agreement, must be taken into account. This comparison does not take into account the potential efficiency gains achieved by the agreement, as they are assessed only under Section 101, paragraph 3. Standardization agreements generally have a significant positive economic impact (102), for example. B by encouraging economic penetration of the internal market and encouraging the development of new and improved products or markets and improved supply conditions. Standards therefore generally increase competition and reduce production and distribution costs, benefiting economies as a whole. Standards can preserve and improve quality, provide information and ensure interoperability and compatibility (increasing value for consumers). An important commonality of the costs generated by a horizontal cooperation agreement can only make it easier for the parties to coordinate market prices and production if the parties have market power, market characteristics promote such coordination, the area of cooperation accounts for a significant share of the variable costs of the parties in a given market, and the parties pool their cooperation activities in a broad range of Measure. That could be the case, for example. B, if they manufacture or buy together an important intermediary or if they jointly produce or market a significant part of their total production of a finished product.