Consultation on the Evaluation of the Consortia Block Exemption Regulation
Currently, shipping alliances with less than 30% of the relevant market share fall under a Consortia Block Exemption Regulation (2009) and enjoy legal certainty that their cooperation is in accordance with EU competition law. Alliances with more than 30% of the market share can be in compliance with the Treaty if they generate efficiencies and if the consumer enjoys a share of the benefits (Article 101(3)).
EU anti-trust law works with compliance self-assessment, which means that the Commission does not need to be informed about the creation of an alliance. The carriers in a consortia have to assess their own compliance themselves.
The “Consortia Regulation”, Regulation 906/2009, has already been renewed several times. The Commission has been running a public consultation to prepare the evaluation of the Consortia Block Exemption, which expires on 25 April 2020. The Commission has three options: prolongation, prolongation with changes or expiration.
An expiration of the Consortia Block Exemption would not make alliances illegal, but would remove the legal certainty for those falling under it and would also mean an end to the guidance that is given in the Block Exemption Regulation.
ESPO has participated in the public consultation without taking a stance on whether the Consortia Regulation should expire or be prolonged, but stressing the need for more monitoring of the current situation, in particular as regards the impact on the market power balance and the benefits for the consumer.
The comments and contributions in response of this Public Consultation are not yet online.
The position of ESPO can be read here.