Shippers, Others Oppose Extension of Consortia Block Exemption

EU CommissionIllustration; Source: Pixabay under CC0 Creative Commons license

Associations representing shippers, freight forwarders and port service providers object to the inclusion in the Commission’s 2020 Work Programme of the decision of the European Commission to extend the Consortia Block Exemption for another four years.

The commission is proposing to extend the regulation exempting liner shipping consortia from EU antitrust rules by another four years, having concluded that the current measure is “still adequate”.

Furthermore, the commission believes that CBER “will continue to simplify the analysis of consortia’s compliance with competition rules, limit the dependency on external advice and reduce legal costs.”

The regulation was set to expire on April 25, 2020.

“This decision is based on the assessment that the CBER saves money for the shipping lines and cuts down on the red tape in the commission, fully dismissing the views of the other parties in the maritime supply chain who are not benefiting from a similar exemption, but in many cases are competing with carriers on services,” Nicolette van der Jagt, Director General of CLECAT noted.

“We express strong disagreement with the procedure of the European Commission which has led to the publication of the decision to prolong the CBER in the Work Programme. We find the Commission’s recognition that data is missing (as outlined in the Staff Working Document from December 2019) unacceptable in view of the recommendation to extend the BER without a single modification of the text,” Lamia Kerdjoudj-Belkaid, Secretary General of FEPORT added.

The organizations are disappointed that the feedback they provided earlier to the commission was not taken into consideration.

Anna Maria Darmanin, Secretary-General from ETA, said that the agencies didn’t receive answers from the commission regarding the objections detailed in its legal analysis submitted in the framework of the last consultation on the CBER which was closed on January 3, 2020.

The associations believe that there are many legal flaws in the arguments put forward by the commission, including missing data, one-sided assumptions on efficiency gains disregarding non-rate related parameters, lack of a proper definition of relevant geographic markets to assess market shares and a complete failure to identify remaining benefits to users, if the CBER would be continued.

“We call on the commission to provide answers to the questions we have raised in the framework of the last consultation and which are of primary importance for our respective members,” a joint statement from the associations reads.

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