Antitrust: the Commission renders legally binding the commitments assumed by shipping companies

The Commission had expressed concerns about the practice of publishing intentions on future price increases put in place by container liner shipping companies. Such practice consisted in announcing – on websites via the press, or in other ways – the General Rate Increase, per transported container unit (TEU, twenty-foot equivalent unit), specifying the route affected by the increase, and the date from which the implementation would have been effective. Although the final price was not indicated, the communication, which was made 3–5 weeks before the date established for the implementation, induced others companies to make the same operation, that is to say announcing the intention of rising prices for similar route or on similar dates. Moreover that declaration was not binding for the companies.

According to the Commission, such practices, which were not directed to inform consumers, but to other companies in order to fix prices, damaged both competition and consumers, in breach of the Articles 101 TFEU and 53 of the Agreement on the European Economic Area, which forbid concerted practices between companies.

The 14 shipping companies involved, in response to the questions raised by the Commission, assumed a series of commitments – become legally binding with the decision taken on 7 July for a period of 3 years starting from 7 December 2016 – aimed to guarantee price transparency, and to prevent the risk of concerted practices.

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