Antitrust exemption for the liner shipping industry is scraped by the EU

  • October 23, 2023
  • News

The European Commission (EC) will conclude the EU antitrust exemption covering liner shipping consortia, which has been in operation for almost 15 years as it no longer boosts competition.

The decision was made after a discussion and a review that began in August 2022. The conclusion came that the Consortia Block Exemption Regulation (CBER) was no longer allowing smaller carriers to collaborate as a way of providing alternative services to compete with larger carriers.

Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders, in charge of competition policy, stated that shipping services are crucial to European and world trade and have undergone multiple changes like global alliances, vertical integration, and consolidation of carriers that have allowed new market conditions which were an important element during a pandemic. Now the research shows that a dedicated block exemption is not required for shipping lines that were adapted during pandemic times.

It is said that the framework will be removed by April 25, 2024, but the EU cleared the air by stating that it won’t mean that shipping lines will no longer be able to cooperate, instead they will have to assess the compatibility of their contracts with the standard EU antitrust rules.

While operating, the CBER has enabled the liner shipping operators with a joint market share of less than 30% to provide joint cargo services, till they don’t fix prices or share markets.