Other agreements may be automatically exempted under a “category exemption” – a category exemption – from which certain agreements within its scope are automatically exempt. Exemptions by different categories may apply depending on the nature of the agreement or the market sector concerned. For example, there are category exemptions for vertical agreements, technology transfer agreements and research and development agreements. In recent years, the use of this instrument has been strengthened, as it is no longer possible for companies to register an agreement or agreement that could violate competition law, but companies themselves are responsible for assessing whether their agreements constitute a violation of EU competition law (self-assessment). Any agreement or any concerted practice with a real or potential competitor involving an exchange of economically sensitive information should be considered anti-competitive, as it will artificially increase market transparency and facilitate cartels. According to the Commission`s guidelines on horizontal cooperation agreements, information is considered economically sensitive when it is strategic (prices, customers, research and development programmes, D, etc.), individualized, real, non-public and covering a sufficiently large part of the market. In order to reduce risk, companies should ensure that a minimum amount of information is exchanged and that the exchange of information is justified for legitimate economic reasons.  EC, guidelines on the applicability of Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to the horizontal cooperation agreements of 14 January 2011, at point 86. In a preliminary assessment, the EC identified Google`s use of content it had “scratched” without authorization in its specialized search services on third-party sites as a potential abuse of dominance.  Websites did not have the technical option to block the use of their content in Google`s specialized search services (with which they competed), without affecting their visibility on Google`s general search service (with which they were not competing).  The EC concluded that Google had created an anti-competitive link between the right to use material from other websites on its specialized search services and the appearance of those sites in Google`s general search results, a practice that allows Google to take advantage of investments from other companies.  As a result, the EC had asked Google to “separate this link in order to restore incentives to competition”.
 Traditionally, agreements had to be notified to the European Commission, subject to certain exceptions, and the Commission had a monopoly on the application of Article 101 of the TFUE (formerly Article 81, paragraph 3, EC).  Since the European Commission did not have the means to deal with all the notified agreements, the notification was abolished. Fundamental prohibitions against anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominance are set out in art. 101 and 102 of the TFUE. There are also rules on concentration control, as well as legislation in the form of other regulations and exemptions by category. Amazon`s behaviour, as described in the EC`s RFI, raises several competition concerns. If the EC`s suspicions are confirmed, this could constitute a violation of Articles 101 and/or 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFUE). With regard to the prohibition of anti-competitive agreements, Article 101 of the TFUE concerns, among other things, the exchange of information relating to competition between competitors.
Article 102 of the TFUE prohibits abuse of a dominant position. In the event of an infringement, the EC could impose a fine of up to 10% of Amazon`s total revenue in the previous year.  In the case of sectoral investigations, the European Commission has good reason to suspect that competition in a given industry or only under a certain type of contract used in different industrial sectors would be prevented, limited or distorted in the common market.