The European Commission should repeal the consortia block exemption regulation (BER) unless a revised regulatory framework clarifying the current regulation is adopted, organizations representing the main maritime logistics industry stakeholders concluded.
As informed by the Global Shipping Forum (GSF), the associations as well as EU national maritime authorities met in Paris on February 8 at a round table hosted by the International Transport Forum (ITF OECD).
The objective of the meeting was to exchange views and positions which could be relevant for the ongoing review of the EU BER, assessing the validity of the regulation which provides the liner shipping industry with an exemption from normal competition rules.
CLECAT, ETA, EBA, EBU, ESO, IWT, ESC, FEPORT, UIRR and the GSF representing users of liner shipping services and service providers all agreed that market developments which occurred over the last five years justify an in-depth review of the regulatory framework as this has not been done since 2009.
They equally considered that the current framework has become obsolete given that most of the carriers operate in alliances and that market concentration is increasing.
At the same time, an important condition for the exemption, which is to provide benefits to the customers, is no longer met, as neither service quality nor productivity have improved over the years. Instead, users of liner shipping services and their service providers have suffered from an increasingly unbalanced market situation since carriers entered into major cooperation agreements, according to GSF.
In this regard, reference was made to the recent ITF Report ‘The Impact of Alliances in Container Shipping’ which has concluded that “the impacts of alliances on the containerized transport system taken as a whole seem to be predominantly negative.”
The signatory associations trust that their concerns will be seriously taken into account by DG Competition which remains the guardian of the proper implementation of the rules of the Treaty.
Some of the associations have already submitted their detailed positions to the European Commission or will do so shortly.