The European Commission announced today that the validity of EU rules, which exempt liner shipping consortia that have a market share of up to 30% from EU antitrust rules, will be extended until April 2020 .
Commenting on the move, Patrick Verhoeven, ECSA Secretary-General said: “We warmly welcome the European Commission’s decision as it is fully in line with our reasoning. The extension of the liner BER will greatly benefit liner shipping by allowing for the continuation of a legal framework that has so far proved its usefulness.” Mr Verhoeven added: “The rules provide clarity, transparency and legal certainty, which the liner shipping industry needs in these testing times”
The Commission had previously proposed to extend the validity of the Liner Consortia Block Exemption Regulation by five years until 2020 based on the observation that the justifications for a block exemption for consortia are still valid and that the conditions on the basis of which the scope and content of Regulation (EC) No 906/2009 were determined have not substantially changed. The European Commission also considered that the existing rules, modernised in 2009, would lead to considerable compliance costs if changed at such an early stage.
“Liner Shipping Consortia increase competition, improve services rendered and foster innovation in a time of rising fuel prices, economic stagnation, stricter environmental rules and a relentless cost-cutting exercise that carriers have undertaken to remain afloat” continued Mr Verhoeven, before concluding: “The Commission’s decision is praiseworthy as it removes legal uncertainty from the equation. By doing so, it allows operators to enter or leave consortia agreements based solely on market realities, thus serving the best interest of shippers and carriers, but most importantly, of the consumer”.
The official European Commission press release can be found