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The Future of Liner Conferences in Europe

A critical analysis of agreements in liner shipping under current European competition law

Series:

Felix Dinger

Purpose of this study is to establish whether or not it is necessary to exempt liner conferences from the regular mechanisms of European competition law by means of a group exemption. The main proposition of the author is that there is no need to allow liner conferences to engage in joint price fixing activities, with the consequence, that the corresponding exemption should be terminated. A first argument to that effect is that liner conferences constitute oligopolies and are harmful from an economic point of view. Secondly, the author concludes from an interpretation of the requirements laid down in Art. 81 III EC that the block exemption for liner conferences embodied in Art. 3 Regulation 4056/86 cannot be reconciled with the EC Treaty. Finally, the author looks at recent changes in U.S. antitrust policy on the issue of price fixing in the liner shipping industry as an aid to develop a future strategy for the European legislator on the issue of liner conferences.
Contents: Development of liner conferences and consortia – The current state of liner shipping – Liner shipping from an economic perspective – European competition law and liner shipping – U.S. antitrust policy on the issue of liner shipping under special consideration of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, OSRA (1998).