Monday, May 7, 2012

EU Wants Freight Industry to Vote on Container and Other Shipping Cartels

After Abolishing Conference Lines Now an Anti Trust Option Examination
Shipping News Feature

EUROPE – This week the EU Anti Trust Commission threw open the question of cartel behaviour with the launch of an online link enabling stakeholders in the freight and logistics industry to voice their opinions regarding the maintenance of specific guidelines with regard to collaborative behaviour in the maritime sector. The current regulations need refining to help the freight and passenger industries transition from a sector-specific to the general antitrust exemption regime which is generally where the Commission is heading to centralise all such exemptions.

The link to give opinions has just opened and will remain so until the 27th July 2012 with the existing guidelines due to expire in September 2013. The current Commission’s view is that the rules as they now stand are no longer needed. This presumably means however that cartel behaviour in general will still remain punishable under the inclusive anti trust regulations which remain in place.

The Commission's directorate general for competition has set out its preliminary assessment on the future of these guidelines in a staff working document. Their main purpose, which was to facilitate the transition from a specific to a general competition regime for maritime transport after the repeal of an exemption for liner conferences in 2006 which impacted so much on the container shipping industry and which we covered in a February article.

Even in the bureaucracy cluttered world of the EU it is plain that the rules regarding the maritime sector overlap heavily with the general regulations regarding anti trust behaviour and thus the Commission has sensibly decided to literally clean up its act and simply requests that those associated with the maritime sector specifically comment, and therefore have an influence, on any new legislation to be adopted.

So, if you are one of many who feel there is a better way to organise competition in the maritime sector now is your chance to speak directly to the Brussels mandarins who come in for praise and/or criticism dependant on which side of this particular fence you sit.

To post your comments directly to the European Commission click HERE.