The defined types of common production and specialization agreements are covered by the revised Category Exemption Specialization Agreement (SBE).6 In addition, the guidelines are guidelines. Specialization is when one party stops producing or reducing a particular product and buys it from the other (this can be done on a reciprocal basis if each producer withdraws from a market and buys the products from its competitor, or unilaterally). Article 101, paragraph 1 of the TFUE prohibits agreements between companies with the purpose or effect of restricting, preventing or distorting competition within the Union and affecting trade between EU Member States. This prohibition is relevant to all agreements between two or more companies, whether they are competitors. “horizontal cooperation,” agreements or agreements between companies operating at the same level of the supply chain, i.e. real (or potential) competitors, for example, a joint R and and development project. B; D between competing technology companies or a distribution and marketing joint venture between competitors. On the other hand, “vertical” agreements are agreements between companies operating at different levels of the supply chain. B a contract to supply a supplier of raw materials to a producer or a distribution agreement between a producer and a retailer. B 4. However, useful guidelines are contained in the guidelines, which recognize that standardization agreements can benefit consumers and promote competition, including encouraging the development of new and improved products or markets, reducing production and distribution costs, improving and maintaining quality, or ensuring interoperability and compatibility. Irrespective of this risk, the Commission has established a relatively clear framework in which agreements can be concluded between competitors involving joint production, joint purchase or sale/marketing, or cooperation with respect to R and D or RPR licences.
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