I'm no lawyer, but I do know that car dealers are covered by the EC cars block exemption laws.
EU/Competition - Car Sector/Distribution of motor vehicles
In essence everything in the EU is covered by Article 81:
Article 81(1) provides that:
The following shall be prohibited as incompatible with the common market: all agreements between undertakings, decisions by associations of undertakings and concerted practices which may affect trade between Member States and which have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition within the common market, and in particular those which:
(a) directly or indirectly fix purchase or selling prices or any other trading conditions;
(b) limit or control production, markets, technical development, or investment;
Except the motor trade who are exempt from this, under certain conditions known as "block exemption". But there are certain anti-competitive practices that are not allowed, and if those are contained in an agreement between the supplier and the dealer then the block exemption is not allowed and the very restrictive Article 81 applies and the agreement is most likely illegal.
The most important restrictions (things that are not allowed in the agreement) are called hardcore restrictions (1400/2002 Article 4
). They are worth a read.
I am not trained in this, but here are some Q&As from the explanatory document.
Question 12: What are active and passive sales?
... General advertising or promotions in media which are normally available or in circulation at the authorised place of establishment of the dealer or repairer or on the Internet are passive sales methods.
Question 32: What if the dealer says that he has been told not to grant discounts on a certain model?
Dealers must be free to sell vehicles below the supplierís recommended price. Manufacturers cannot fix actual selling prices or minimum prices. If a supplier were to restrict a dealerís ability to grant discounts, this would be a serious restriction of competition, which would mean that the supplierís distribution agreements would not be covered by the block exemption.
Question 44: Is a dealer free to advertise on the Internet and to sell new vehicles over the Internet?
A dealership web site is a passive selling tool and the dealer may use it for advertising and for carrying out transactions, and this use may not be restricted under the Regulation. Nor may the dealer be restricted under the Regulation in his use of the Internet or of email instead of more traditional methods, such as normal mail or fax, to conclude sales contracts.
A dealer must also be free to make agreements with Internet referral sites, which put consumers in contact with the dealer who is able to supply a vehicle. A vehicle manufacturer may require the dealer using the Internet to comply with the qualitative requirements regarding the promotion of the relevant brand of motor vehicles over the Internet. A supplier may also require an Internet referral site to which a dealer out-sources its advertising to comply with its quality requirements. Such sites, which may promote the sales of new motor vehicles of one or more brands, may also refer consumers who wish to purchase a new vehicle to one of the dealers which is connected to the referral site.