EU Agreements of Minor Importance
Agreements between smaller companies or those who do not dominate their particular market, do not tend to affect trade within the EC. This is reflected in a notice from the Commission which exempts agreements such as those otherwise caught above, in the following cases:
- The general test will be that the agreement does not constitute an appreciable restriction on competition, largely dependant on market share;
- Between competitors, the threshold market share has now been set at 10% and at 15% between non-competitors (the previous levels were set at 5% and 10% respectively);
- However where there is shown to be a network of agreements, the level will be 5%;
- In addition, agreements between two ‘small or medium-sized enterprises’ will not normally be caught by EC competition law;
- The above exclusions will not apply if the deal involves ‘hard core’ restrictions such as price fixing and market sharing which are illegal regardless of the size of the parties or their market share.