Freedom to supply services, competition, unfair pricing practices and free access to ocean trade

Table of Contents:

Freedom to supply services, competition, unfair pricing practices and free access to ocean trade

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Freedom to supply services, competition, unfair pricing practices and free access to ocean trade


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Competition > Rules applicable to specific sectors > Competition in transport

Freedom to supply services, competition, unfair pricing practices and free access to ocean trade

Document or Iniciative

Council Regulation (EEC) No 4055/86 of 22 December 1986 applying the principle of freedom to provide services to maritime transport between Member States and between Member States and third countries [See amending acts]


Four Regulations, Nos 4055/86, 4056/86, 4057/86 and 4058/86, set out to apply the principles of freedom to provide services, competition, and free access to the market in sea transport. Another Regulation, No 3577/92, deals specifically with freedom to provide services in sea transport within Member States (” maritime cabotage “).

Regulation (EEC) No 4055/86: Freedom to provide services

The Regulation gives Member State nationals (and non-Community shipping companies using ships registered in a Member State and controlled by Member State nationals) the right to carry passengers or goods by sea between any port of a Member State and any port or off-shore installation of another Member State or of a non-Community country.

Any current national restrictions which reserve the carriage of goods to vessels flying the national flag are to be phased out.

Existing cargo sharing arrangements in bilateral agreements with non-Community countries are to be adjusted or phased out according to this Regulation.

Cargo sharing arrangements in future bilateral agreements with non-member countries will be limited to those Member States whose shipping companies would not otherwise have an opportunity to ply for trade to and from the particular non-member country.

The Regulation lays down a procedure for cases where Member State shippers have no effective opportunity to ply for trade to and from a particular non-Community country.

It allows the extension of the benefits of the Regulation to non-Community nationals established in the Community.

Regulation No 3573/90 inserts a clause providing for the adjustment of agreements concluded by the former German Democratic Republic.

Regulation (EEC) No 4056/86: Application of the competition rules in maritime transport

The Regulation defines the following terms:

  • “tramp vessel services”: the transport of goods without a regular timetable where the freight rates are freely negotiated case by case in accordance with supply and demand;
  • “liner conference”: a group of carriers who provide international liner services for the carriage of cargo within specified geographical limits and who agree to charge uniform or common freight rates and to apply any other agreed terms for the provision of liner services;
  • “transport user”: a firm that has entered into, or demonstrates an intention to enter into, a contractual or other arrangement with a conference or shipping line.

The Regulation lays down the rules for applying Articles 81 and 82 of the Treaty (free competition) to maritime transport. The transport must be between one or more Community ports, and tramp vessel services are excluded.

Technical agreements whose sole object is to achieve technical improvements or cooperation are exempted by the Regulation from the prohibition in Article 81(1) of the Treaty.

Restrictive practices engaged in by members of one or more liner conferences are exempted from the prohibition in Article 81(1), on certain conditions, in so far as they seek to coordinate shipping timetables, determine the frequency of sailing, allocate sailings among members of the conference, fix rates and conditions of carriage, regulate carrying capacity, or allocate cargo or revenue among members.

Regulation No 1/2003 provides for a changeover from a centralised system of prior notification to a directly applicable exception scheme: competition law is now to be enforced by any competition authority, including the Commission, and by the courts of the Member States.

Regulation (EEC) No 4057/86: Unfair pricing in maritime transport

This Regulation enables the EC to apply compensatory duties in order to protect shipowners in Member States from unfair pricing practices on the part of non-Community shipowners.

The Regulation defines the injury that can be taken into consideration, e.g. a reduction in the shipowner’s market share or profits or in employment.

It lays down a procedure for complaints, consultations, and subsequent investigations.

It allows compensatory duties to be imposed on foreign shipowners. These follow an investigation which demonstrates that injury has been caused by unfair pricing and that the interests of the Community make intervention necessary.

Regulation (EEC) No 4058/86: Free access to ocean trades

This Regulation applies when action by a non-Community country or by its agents restricts free access to the transport of liner cargoes, bulk cargoes or other cargoes by shipping companies of Member States or by ships registered in a Member State, except where such action is taken in conformity with the UN Liner Code.

The Regulation defines the expressions “home trader” and “cross-trader”.

It provides for coordinated action by the Community following a request made by a Member State to the Commission. Such action might include diplomatic representation to non-Community countries and countermeasures directed at the shipping companies concerned.

Similar coordinated action can be taken at the request of another country belonging to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) with which a reciprocal arrangement has been concluded.

Act Entry into force – Date of expiry Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EEC) No 4055/86 01.01.1987 OJ L 378 of 31.12.1986
Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EEC) No 4056/86 01.07.1987 OJ L 378 of 31.12.1986
Regulation (EEC) No 4057/86 01.07.1987 OJ L 378 of 31.12.1986
Regulation (EEC) No 4058/86 01.07.1987 OJ L 378 of 31.12.1986
Regulation (EEC) No 3573/90 17.12.1990 OJ L 353 of 17.12.1990

This summary is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document which remains the only legally binding document.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *