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EU: Insurance Block Exemption – European Commission seeks views on its future

The current Insurance Block Exemption Regulation (IBER) expires on 31 March 2017, and the European Commission is required to report to the Council and European Parliament by March 2016 on the functioning and future of the IBER. To facilitate the preparation of this report, the Commission has issued a consultation seeking views on the IBER, particularly from (re)insurance undertakings, industry associations, insurance intermediaries, public authorities, consumer organisations and customers, as well as competition practitioners, researchers and think tanks.

Brief background to IBER

By way of a brief background, IBER provides a block exemption for certain types of (re)insurance agreements from the prohibition in Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (whereby anti-competitive agreements which may affect trade between Member States and which have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition within the internal market, are prohibited). The current IBER (which came into force in 2010) is the third such insurance block exemption regulation that has been in force since the 1992. The provisions of the current IBER differ somewhat to its predecessors. As each previous insurance block exemption regulation has approached expiry, the Commission has undertaken a review of the aims, uses, justifications of the in-force insurance block exemption regulation and thus each replacement block exemption has become more applicable to the then current market requirements.

The current IBER provides a block exemption for agreements relating to:

  1. Joint compilations, tables and studies; and
  2. Common coverage of certain types of risks (co(re)-insurance pools)

An agreement that falls outside the scope of IBER must be self-assessed to see whether it qualifies for individual exemption.

The current consultation

The consultation is in the form of a questionnaire – although quite lengthy it covers valid areas and is straight forward to complete. The Commission shows an interest in, amongst other things, market developments which may have an impact on the IBER and how the IBER applies in practice. Responses are required by 14 November 2014.