On 31st December 2022, the current R&D Block Exemption 1217/2010 (‘R&D BE’) is due to expire and to be replaced by a new safe harbor regulation which will be supported by guidelines contained within new Horizontal Guidelines to be issued by the European Commission, which are still in draft. The Commission is seeking to
The European Commission is currently running a public consultation on the draft Guidelines on the applicability of Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to horizontal co-operation agreements (“draft Horizontal Guidelines”) and the draft revised horizontal block exemption regulations until 26 April 2022. The long-awaited draft Horizontal Guidelines have introduced a new chapter (Chapter 9) on sustainability agreements. Against the background of various green initiatives by the EU, including its ambitious Green Deal and Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability (see our analysis here), the industry has been advocating for further guidance on collaboration among competitors to meet different sustainability goals. Any guidance is further welcomed as it is proposed by the draft Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence that undertakings should collaborate to increase their ability to bring the adverse environmental or human rights impacts to an end (see our analysis here).
We explore here below the proposed approach by the Commission on the sustainability agreements – horizontal cooperation agreements that genuinely pursue one or more sustainability objectives. The draft Horizontal Guidelines and the proposed approach may be further revised based on the input from different stakeholders gathered during the public consultation.