Exclusive Distribution Agreement Eu Competition Law

Exclusive Distribution Agreement and EU Competition Law: What You Need to Know

If you are a business owner looking to expand your market, you might consider entering into an exclusive distribution agreement. This type of agreement is beneficial for both parties involved—the manufacturer or supplier, and the distributor. However, before signing such a contract, it is essential to understand how European Union (EU) competition law applies to exclusive distribution agreements.

What is an Exclusive Distribution Agreement?

An exclusive distribution agreement is a contract between a manufacturer or supplier and a distributor. The agreement grants the distributor exclusive rights to sell the manufacturer or supplier`s products within a particular geographic area or market segment. In return, the distributor usually agrees to achieve certain sales targets and to promote the products actively.

Exclusive distribution agreements are common in many industries, including electronics, pharmaceuticals, and consumer goods. Manufacturers or suppliers use them to control the distribution of their products, ensure that they are marketed effectively, and maintain consistent pricing.

EU Competition Law and Exclusive Distribution Agreements

The EU has strict rules regarding competition law to ensure the free flow of competition in the market. As per EU competition law, exclusive distribution agreements may be seen as a restrictive practice and may fall foul of antitrust rules.

The EU competition law applies to exclusive distribution agreements only when they contain provisions that may limit competition. This is to avoid any situation where such agreements may lead to a significant market share for the supplier or distributor, thus creating a monopoly in the market.

To ensure compliance with EU competition law, businesses must seek legal advice before entering into any exclusive distribution agreement. The agreement must be drafted in a way that it does not breach competition law and ensure that the parties involved do not violate competition laws.

Competition laws are enforced by the European Commission, which may impose hefty fines on companies that violate EU competition laws. The commission may also order companies to change their business practices or even revoke the exclusive distribution agreement in question.

The Benefits of an Exclusive Distribution Agreement

Despite the strict rules regarding competition law, an exclusive distribution agreement can still be beneficial to both parties. The benefits include:

1. Increased sales and revenue: Since the distributor has exclusive rights to sell the manufacturer`s or supplier`s products, they can focus on promoting and selling the products more effectively, increasing sales and revenue.

2. Consistent pricing: The agreement ensures that the products are sold at consistent prices, maintaining a level playing field for the distributor.

3. Streamlined distribution: The manufacturer or supplier can ensure that their products are distributed effectively, reducing the risk of products being sold in areas where they are not authorized to be sold.


An exclusive distribution agreement can be beneficial for both parties involved. However, before entering into such an agreement, it is crucial to ensure compliance with EU competition law. Businesses must seek legal advice to draft such an agreement that does not breach competition law and ensure that parties involved do not violate competition laws. With proper planning and expertise, an exclusive distribution agreement can help businesses expand their market and increase revenue.