The favourable treatment of the shipping lines, as the one being guaranteed via the Consortia Block Exemption Regulation (CBER), should be abolished! It is the ETF’s official position on the EC evaluation of the CBER. It would be for the sake of fair competition and quality jobs.
The exemption from EU antitrust rules allows some shipping lines to share vessel capacity and coordinate sailing schedules to adapt to demand fluctuation. However, this has only led to further market distortions, especially in the case of vertically integrated carriers, favouring the dominant position of shipping lines over terminal operators and other actors of the supply chain and resulting in pressure on working conditions for the dockers and the maritime workers at large, due to ever-growing peaks of activity and unreliability of the schedules.
How has CBER functioned since the 2020 prolongation of regulation?
So far, we know that as an exception to general EU competition law, this regulation allows shipping companies to cooperate and provide joint services, including the everyday use of port terminals.
One thing is for sure: while it is a handy legislative tool for increasing companies’ profits, it negatively impacts dockers and other maritime workers. This is why we encouraged our affiliates to speak up and ensure their points of view are included in the EC’s recent online evaluation of CBER regulation.
While the role of the European Commission is to guarantee an accurate level playing field, the CBER has turned out to be a disproportionate privilege from EU competition rules that caused severe harm to the workers and the principle of fair competition in the sector.
Ensuring a socially sustainable sector should be an EU priority; therefore, it’s time to end the CBER.