European Commission launches price-fixing investigation into shipping companies

The European Commission has launched formal antitrust proceedings against several container liner shipping companies.

From 2009, shipping companies generally announced their prices through press releases on their websites and in the specialised trade media. The announcements contain the intended price changes and the date of their implementation, which are broadly similar across the companies. The price changes are made successively, several weeks before the implementation date.

The Commission explained its position in a press release on Friday:

The Commission has concerns that this practice may allow the companies to signal future price intentions to each other and may harm competition and customers by raising prices on the market for container liner shipping transport services on routes to and from Europe.

The Commission will investigate whether the practice amounts to a breach of Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and of Article 53 of the European Economic Area Agreement.