"The treatment of vertical agreements in EC competition law has changed significantly during the last ten years."

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EC competition policy is one of the original policy areas of the 1957 EC Treaty and has a number of objectives, some of which are common to all competition systems and some specific to the EC. A key function of the EC competition rules, as interpreted by the ECJ, has been to assist in the establishment of a single Community-wide market, (for example, by preventing companies from dividing the market into national sales territories).


Article 81 regulates anti-competitive behaviour in a wide range of scenarios and has been applied with reference to what the EU is trying to achieve: a level playing field2 for competition within an internal market. The aim of achieving market integration between the Member States is apparent in many rulings of the Commission and European courts.
Article 81(1) provides that "all agreements between undertakings, decisions by associations of undertakings and concerted practices and which may affect trade between Member States and which have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition within the common market shall be prohibited. In Article 81(3) the conditions for exemption from Article 81(1) are laid down. The way in which the ECJ has interpreted these concepts and requirements will be examined in the following subsection.
According to the (C-41/90 Hofner and Elser3), the meaning of undertakings is 'The concept of undertaking encompasses every entity engaged in an economic activity regardless of the legal status of the entity and the way in which it is financed'. ...
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