A number of organisations representing shipping lines, shippers, freight forwarders, terminal operators, labour and port authorities have jointly called for the repeal of the EU’s Consortia Block Exemption Regulation (BER) unless a revised regulatory framework clarifying the current BER is adopted.
The BER, which allows carriers to operate as consortia in trades serving the EU, expires in April 2020, and several groups representing the container shipping industry have previously called for it to be renewed for five years.
The stakeholders arguing against the BER’s renewal include the European Association for Forwarding, Transport, Logistics and Customs Services (CLECAT), the European Shippers Council, Feport, the Global Shippers’ Forum and the International Union for Road-Rail Combined Transport.
In a statement, they said: “An important condition for the exemption, which is to provide benefits to the customers, is no longer met, as neither service quality nor productivity have improved over the years.
“Instead, users of liner shipping services and their service providers have suffered from an increasingly unbalanced market situation since carriers entered into major cooperation agreements.”
The group referenced the recent ITF Report “The Impact of Alliances in Container Shipping” which has concluded that “the impacts of alliances on the containerised transport system taken as a whole seem to be predominantly negative.”
The organisations all agreed that market developments which occurred over the last five years justify an in-depth review of the regulatory framework as this has not been done since 2009.
They equally considered that the current framework has become obsolete given that most of the carriers operate in alliances and that market concentration is increasing.
The European Commission conducted a public consultation in late 2018 to collect evidence and views from stakeholders to assess the impact and relevance of the BER and provide an evidence base for determining whether it should be left to expire or prolonged – and if so, under which conditions.