Within eight weeks, it shall seek the opinion of the persons concerned in order to determine its time limit or extension
The European Commission (EC) has started its review of the Liner Shipping Consortium Block Exemption , starting with an eight-week period during which it will seek the views of interested parties.
As reported by Alphaliner, the evaluation will help the Commission to decide whether the Exemption should be terminated or extended, with or without amendments, when it expires in April 2024. Interested parties have until 3 October to send their comments.
It should be noted that the so-called block exemption does not apply to the three main container transport alliances (2M, THE Alliance, Ocean Alliance), which are required to apply for specific licences, but allows lines with a combined market share of less than 30% to enter into agreements or consortia to provide joint services. In addition, the exemption has its limits leaving out all practices that tend to price-fixing and/or market distribution agreements.
Although the EC acknowledged that current market conditions were exceptional, there were suggestions for a possible change of tone in the Commission. The impact of current challenges «offers useful lessons on the role of consortia in the productivity of container transport services, as well as the overall efficiency and resilience of the global logistics system,» he said.
The assessment of whether the Exemption remains fit for purpose shall also take into account:
- The trend towards consolidation between shipping lines;
- Their vertical integration;
- Cross-participation in different consortia from 2020.
The review follows an open letter three weeks ago from 10 transport and freight groups, including the International Federation of Freight Forwarders’ Associations (FIATA) and the European Association of Freight Forwarders, Transport, Logistics and Customs Services (CLECAT), which requested a timely review to enact possible new measures before the 2024 deadline, arguing for similar investigations in the US. U.S. that have led to regulatory changes.
The European block exemption was first adopted in 2009 and was extended twice in 2014 and 2020.