Brussels, 13th September 2007
(see also MEMO/07/355)
In September 2006, the Council decided to put an end to the exemption from the Treaty’s ban on restrictive business practices (Article 81) which benefited price fixing liner shipping conferences on routes to and from the EU and to apply the same procedural rules to cabotage and tramp shipping services (the non-regular, maritime transport of bulk cargo that is not containerised). This marks the start of a new competitive regime in the maritime sector. To ensure that the new regime fosters competitive markets, the Commission committed itself to provide guidance on how it proposes to apply the EU competition rules to the liner and tramp shipping sector.
Exchanges of volume, capacity and price data among liner shipping carriers can increase market transparency and contribute to improving the way liner shipping services are provided. However, the exchange of commercially sensitive data may breach competition law. The draft Guidelines provide more guidance to the industry as to when information exchanges are considered compatible with EU competition rules.
Following the extension of Regulation 1/2003 to include tramp services, ship-owners and Member States asked the Commission for guidance on agreements between tramp shipping operators, so-called pool agreements. A tramp pool, the predominant form of organisation among ship-owners in this sector, brings together a number of similar vessels under different ownership and operated under a single administration. The draft Guidelines consider that, given the variation in pools' characteristics in the diverse tramp shipping markets, no general statement can be made whether pools are in conformity with the EU competition rules. Each pool must be analysed separately. The Guidelines provide guidance how such analysis should be carried out.
The draft Guidelines will be published on 14 September in the Official Journal in all official languages. The English, French and German language versions are already available at:
The Commission invites all interested parties to send their comments on the
draft Guidelines no later than 8 weeks after the publication in the Official
Journal by e-mail to:
Or in writing to:
Unit F1 – Antitrust - Transport and Post
After the eight week public consultation period, Member States’ views will be sought in the Advisory Committee. If necessary, the Commission may revisit the text before final adoption of the Guidelines due for adoption by the Commission no later than October 2008.