The European Union said it will not extend or renew anti-trust guidelines that have helped ocean carriers to adjust to the new regulatory environment after it outlawed liner shipping conferences.
The guidelines, which are due to expire in September, are “no longer needed,” according to the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm.
The guidelines were issued on the eve of the Commission’s ban on price-fixing and capacity-setting conferences on routes to and from EU ports in October 2008. They spelled out the circumstances under which carriers could exchange information and compile data on freight rates and cargo volumes.
“The main initial purpose of these guidelines was to facilitate the transition from a specific to a general competition regime for maritime transport after the repeal in 2006 of an exemption of antitrust rules for liner conferences,” the Commission said. “This objective has now been achieved.”
The Washington-based World Shipping Council told the Commission last year that ocean carriers were neutral over whether the guidelines were prolonged.
The Commission is due to begin a review this year of a block antitrust exemption for liner shipping consortia that expires in April 2015.
EU regulators are currently investigating whether ocean carriers violated antitrust rules 15 months after they raided the European offices of several leading lines.