Brussels - The European Commission should carefully consider allowing the EU Consortia Block Exemption Regulation to expire in April 2020, writes the OECD-funded International Transport Forum in its last report.
Liner shipping, says the report, “does not have unique characteristics that justify exemptions from competition law, either for conferences or for alliances. In line with the global long-term trend to dismantle sector specific exemptions from competition law and in line with OECD regulatory principles, generic antitrust rules should apply to all agreements between liner shipping companies, as for any other industry, with regard to the cooperation that is allowed. Countries where ‘conferences’ are still allowed should reconsider their position.”
According to the Forum, a “ repeal of block exemptions is unlikely to result in the termination of current and future alliances, as these could still be authorised under competition law on a case by case basis. However, it would ensure greater scrutiny of individual alliances and thus more effectively deter any anticompetitive conduct in the sector.”
The European Commission, say the authors, “could provide temporary guidelines on how to treat liner shipping in EU antitrust law. If the block exemption is extended, its scope should be limited, in particular by introducing a provision to consult maritime transport stakeholders and by excluding joint purchasing by alliances.”