Restrictive agreements in maritime transport: undertakings accepted and published by the Italian Competition Authority

On January 14, 2020, the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) launched a preliminary investigation based on a number of complaints filed against Mediterranea Marittima S.p.a., Medmar Navi S.p.a., Servizi Marittimi Liberi Giuffré & Lauro S.r.l. and Tra.Spe.Mar. S.r.l, GML Trasporti Marittimi S.r.l, and Consorzio COTRASIR. All the companies used to operate — as competitors — in the maritime transport of dangerous goods, waste, and flammable substances to and from the islands of the Gulf of Naples. The investigation revolved around an alleged agreement restricting competition in violation of Art. 2 of Law No. 287/90, as well as section 101 of the TFEU. Specifically, the companies had implemented a practice aimed at standardizing the supply of services and “resetting any competitive dynamics.” This practice consisted of creating a consortium that eventually became the sole operator along the route between the islands and the mainland. On the consumer side, this led to an increase in the prices of both fuel and the waste disposal on the islands in the Gulf.

Following the proceeding, the parties pledged to take action by implementing undertakings in accordance with the provisions of Article 14-ter of Law No. 287/1990, published on the Italian Competition Authority website. Such undertakings include the obligation to dissolve and wind up both COTRASIR and the joint venture GML, as well as to refrain in the future from forming cartels or taking any forms of action geared to forming the same types of groups, including consortiums. An additional commitment was made to adopt a specific compliance program in accordance with the Guidelines published by the Antitrust Authority, and the parties undertook to update that program annually. Finally, the parties committed to meet on a regular basis, separately, with customers and local authorities that use transport services in order to verify the possibility of increasing the quality of services in response to the contingent needs of the market. Those meetings will be moderated by a monitoring trustee, who every six months will also verify the appropriateness of the prices applied.

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