07 July 2016

Commission accepts commitments by container liner shipping companies on price transparency

The European Commission has adopted a decision that renders legally binding the commitments offered by fourteen container liner shipping companies. The commitments aim to increase price transparency for customers and to reduce the likelihood of coordinating prices.

The commitments address the Commission's concerns that the companies' practice of publishing their intentions on future price increases may have harmed competition and customers. This practice may have raised prices on the market for container liner shipping services on routes to and from Europe, in breach of EU antitrust rules.

The Commission had concerns that General Rate Increase announcements do not provide full information on new prices to customers but merely allow carriers to be aware of each other's pricing intentions and may make it possible for them to coordinate their behaviour.

CLECAT submitted comments to the Commission regarding the lines’ commitments, supporting the principles of transparency in pricing announcements, that pricing decisions be made by individual shipping lines based on their own situations. CLECAT called on the Commission to maintain scrutiny over pricing practices, and also to consider the impact of alliances.

The Commission has therefore made the commitments legally binding on the carriers for a period of three years starting from 7 December 2016.