EU extends liner consortia block exemption regulation
The European Commission has extended the validity of the existing legal framework exempting, if certain conditions are met, liner shipping consortia from EU antitrust rules. The extension applies for five years up to April 2020.
After a public consultation, the Commission concluded that the exemption has worked well, providing legal certainty to agreements which bring benefits to customers and do not unduly distort competition, and that the current market circumstances warrant a prolongation.
The maritime consortia block exemption regulation allows shipping lines with a combined market share of below 30% to enter into cooperation agreements to provide joint cargo transport services (so-called "consortia"). Such agreements usually allow liner shipping carriers to rationalise their activities and achieve economies of scale.
If consortia face sufficient competition and are not used to fix prices or share the market, users of services provided by consortia are usually able to benefit from improvements in productivity and service quality. The Commission has therefore exempted such agreements from the prohibition of anticompetitive agreements in Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).