EU’s shipping consortia block exemption slammed by supply chain stakeholders

Several representatives of the European supply chain have sent a letter to the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen to express strong disapproval towards the decision to prolong the Consortia Block Exemption Regulation (CBER) for another four years without any changes.

The organisations CLECAT, ETA, ESC, ETF and FEPORT voiced their anger on behalf of thousands of European freight forwarders, tug owners, shippers and port companies and terminals and transport workers.

They claim that their value has not been fully recognised in the review process of the CBER after repeated rejections of their request for the Commission to only prolong the regulation for one year.

“This would have allowed a thorough, fair and more balanced review, taking into account other sources of data than those provided by the representatives of the liner shipping industry,” noted the organisations in a statement.

“The current legal framework for liner shipping consortia has become obsolete given that most of the carriers operate in alliances and that market concentration is increasing,” they added.

In their opinion, the European Commission has assessed the workings of the CBER only from the perspective of carriers and the Commission itself (as the competition regulator).

Their statement added: “There has been no explicit assessment against the experiences and expectations of customers of the services provided by consortia, other service providers and transport workers.”

The organisations also highlighted that the had alerted the Commission on the impact such consortia can have on port services if clarifications were not made.

Olaf Merk, ports and shipping expert of the International Transport Forum at the OECD, also voiced his displeasure at the Commission’s decision. He tweeted: “Tilting the playing field in favour of a few mega-carriers at the exact moment when ports, terminals and logistics operators are struggling to keep supply chains working: what signal is that giving? Expect this to impact positions on maritime state aid, taxation, bailouts.”