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International Chamber of Shipping welcomes extension of EU Consortia Block exemption for liner shipping

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), which represents over 80% of the world merchant fleet, has welcomed the confirmation by the European Commission of the extension of the EU Consortia Block Exemption Regulation (BER), without change to the current EU competition regime until at least April 2024.

24 March 2020

The European Commission has undertaken rigorous analysis of the evidence to ensure the current arrangements for liner consortia remain fit for purpose. Following a long and thorough consultation with relevant stakeholders, and its recognition of the importance and benefits of vessel sharing agreements throughout the container shipping industry moving goods between the EU and its global trading partners, the Commission published the regulation confirming the extension today.

“The decision is very important because it will also influence the position taken by other competition authorities around the world as and when they periodically review the application of their own competition rules to international liner shipping” said ICS Deputy Secretary General, Simon Bennett. “We appreciate the thorough process and commend the European Commission for taking this decision.”

“While the Commission arrived at its important decision before COVID-19 took hold, the knowledge that co-operative vessel sharing arrangements can continue with legal certainty will assist the recovery of global maritime trade once the current crisis is over.”

The use of liner consortia and vessel sharing arrangements allows participating companies to pool their containerships together, providing service frequencies which they would be unable to provide alone, while also delivering cost efficiencies for customers.