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Exemption for certain agreements between liner shipping companies

Exemption for certain agreements between liner shipping companies

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Exemption for certain agreements between liner shipping companies


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Exemption for certain agreements between liner shipping companies (“consortia”)

Document or Iniciative

Commission Regulation (EC) No 906/2009 of 28 September 2009 on the application of Article 81(3) of the Treaty to certain categories of agreements, decisions and concerted practices between liner shipping companies (consortia).


This regulation applies to consortia * providing international liner shipping * services from or to one or more ports within the European Union (EU).

Exempted agreements

In accordance with Article 101(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) (formerly Article 81(3) of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC)), Article 101(1) TFEU (formerly Article 81(1) TEC) is not applicable to the following activities of a consortium:

  • the joint operation of liner shipping services;
  • capacity adjustments in response to supply and demand fluctuations;
  • the joint operation or use of port terminals;
  • any other activity ancillary to those listed above, which is necessary for their implementation, such as:
    1. the use of a computerised data exchange system;
    2. an obligation on members of a consortium to limit use in the relevant market or markets to vessels allocated to the consortium;
    3. an obligation on members of a consortium not to assign or charter space to other vessel-operating carriers in the relevant market or markets except with the prior consent of the other members of the consortium.

Hardcore restrictions

The exemption above does not apply to a consortium that, directly or indirectly, alone or together with other factors under the control of the parties, has the object to:

  • fix prices when selling liner shipping services to third parties outside the consortium;
  • limit the capacity or sales except for the previously mentioned exempted capacity adjustments;
  • allocate markets or customers.

Conditions for exemption

To qualify for the exemption, the combined market share of the consortium members in the relevant market in which the consortium operates must not exceed 30 %, calculated by reference to the total volume of goods carried by the members within or outside the consortium. 5. To qualify for the exemption, members of the consortium must have the right to withdraw, subject to a maximum period of notice of six months, without any penalty, financial or otherwise. In the case of a highly integrated consortium, the maximum period of notice can be extended to 12 months.


This regulation builds on Regulation (EC) No 823/2000 which expired on 25 April 2010. Although the justifications for a block exemption for liner consortia are still valid, Regulation 906/2009 ensures a greater convergence with other existing block exemption regulations for horizontal cooperation whilst taking into account current market practices in the liner industry.

Key terms used in the act
  • Consortium: an agreement or a set of interrelated agreements between two or more vessel-operating carriers which provide joint international liner shipping services exclusively for the carriage of cargo relating to one or more trades.
  • Liner shipping: the transport of goods on a regular basis on a particular route or routes between ports and in accordance with timetables and sailing dates advertised in advance and available, even on an occasional basis, to any transport user against payment.


Act Entry into force – Date of expiry Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EC) No 906/2009

26.4.2010 – 25.4.2015

OJ L 256 of 29.9.2009