07 October 2022


CLECAT has submitted its feedback to the call for evidence on the evaluation of the Consortia Block Exemption Regulation (CBER).

In its submission CLECAT elaborates on its arguments why the CBER should not be prolonged. Although the CBER may have been justified two decades ago, the conditions for an exemption under the CBER no longer ensure with a sufficient degree of certainty that exempted consortia agreements meet all four conditions of Article 101(3) TFEU under current and expected market conditions.

The dramatic changes that have occurred in the container shipping market since the renewal in 2020 have shown that the CBER has allowed carriers to benefit from important market developments, such as connected digital information services and vertical integration of supply chain functions, at the expense of the users of liner services, and ultimately consumers.

CLECAT therefore calls for an end to the CBER, which we consider to be an outdated measure that provides too much interpretative scope for carriers, and which protracts urgently needed enforcement actions. After the expiry of the CBER there will be a need for guidance on the application of the EU competition rules in the liner shipping sector, given the special features of this industry. CLECAT encourages the development of specific guidelines for this sector to ensure that the competition law framework for vessel sharing agreements is transparent, enforceable, and open to scrutiny at times of market stress.

On Monday this week, CLECAT and 9 other organisations (EBU, ESC, ESPO, ETA, FEPORT, FIATA, GSF, FIDI and UIRR) also sent an open letter to EC Vice-President Margrethe Vestager in which they informed the Commission they are united in calling for a change of the legislative framework in which the container shipping lines are able to cooperate and therefore not for an (unaltered) extension of the Consortia Block Exemption Regulation.