DG COMP launches revision of the Consortia BER
The European Commission (DG Competition) has begun the process of revision of the Consortia Block Exemption Regulation.
An evaluation roadmap has been published outlining the Commission's intentions and inviting initial written stakeholder comments, ahead of a full public consultation in the third quarter of this year.
The first Consortia Block Exemption Regulation ("Consortia BER"), Commission Regulation 870/95, was adopted in 1995 and has since been prolonged and amended 4 times. The current enabling Council Regulation 246/2009 provides that, by way of Regulation, exempt consortia agreements from the application of Article 101(1) TFEU for a period limited to five years with the possibility of prolongation.
In the years since the introduction of the first Consortia BER, the Commission has progressively repealed all maritime-specific competition legislation and guidelines as part of the general policy of harmonising competition rules and replacing sector-specific rules with measures (BERs or guidelines) providing general guidance on the application of Article 101 TFEU. Today the Consortia BER is the only remaining maritime-specific competition measure. Furthermore, in recent years, given the challenging economic context, the liner shipping industry has been undergoing a significant process of consolidation. Some carriers exited the market, merged or cooperate in increasingly larger consortia and some continue to cooperate in smaller consortia. The Commission has noted that under such circumstances, the question arises of the continued relevance of the Regulation.
In its evaluation, the Commission is seeking to determine whether the Consortia BER is still effective in facilitating economically efficient cooperation that benefits consumers, its effect on costs, its relevance to the modern industry and its coherence with other competition rules. CLECAT is reviewing the Commission’s roadmap and will seek to provide comments to DG COMP before the 4th June.