E-Distribution - Towards a vertical agreements framework fit for an environmentally sustainable and digital economy
PhD student: Mrs L. Van Acker
Promotors: Mrs Prof E. Terryn, Prof W. Devroe
Duration: 2/1/2020 - 31/12/2023
Currently, the digital economy is rapidly advancing, while concerns about environmental sustainability worry many. The legal framework for vertical agreements finds itself at the intersection of these two market trends. First, the rise of e-commerce has impacted traditional distribution in many ways through, for instance, the use of web stores, online platforms, and extensive data collection. Second, more and more sustainability measures find their way into distribution, such as the promise of ecological delivery and the environmental thresholds distributors set for their suppliers. Besides these market trends, it can also be observed that this framework which was, until now, predominantly competition law-focused is becoming more intertwined with other branches of law, like the Geo-blocking Regulation. Within these new contexts, the question arises how the current vertical agreements framework should be regulated. To answer this question, this research will address how vertical agreements in their new context are assessed under competition law and the other branches of law, after which potential discrepancies will be discussed. To help with the normative assessment at the end of this research, the European vertical agreements framework will be compared with the United States framework, a legal framework with radically different underpinnings. Finally, this research will evaluate whether the current framework for vertical agreements still achieves its original objectives as well as the new objectives as deduced from the above-market trends. If needed, the research will formulate suggestions on how to improve the effectiveness and coherence of the legal framework for vertical agreements.