Shipping consortia: Block Exemption Regulation (BER) to finally end
As of 25 April 2024, container shipping lines will have to comply with the usual EU competition rules when cooperating with other carriers. The Block Exemption Regulation (BER) for shipping consortia will not be renewed but will expire on this date, the EU Commission has decided. The exemption from parts of competition law no longer brings advantages for competition in container shipping.
The BER for shipping consortia was introduced in 2009 and extended in 2014 and 2020 respectively. The rules are intended to give carriers economies of scale and enable better utilisation of their shipping capacities. According to the EU Treaty, such privileges can be in line with internal market rules, provided that the shipowners' customers and consumers also benefit from the economic advantages.
However, associations of freight forwarders, shippers and port operators have increasingly doubted this in recent years. They have also criticised the BER for allowing carriers to take a dominant position in the market and increasingly penetrate business areas of freight forwarders or port operators. The seaports association ZDS as well as the Committee of German Seaport Freight Forwarders welcomed the end of the BER accordingly in initial statements to DVZ.