The EC announced the proceedings last week, which will focus on whether announcements of rate increases by container lines were being used to broadcast intentions between competitors in breach of an EU article prohibiting "anticompetitive agreements and concerted practices".
CMA CGM and Maersk have both announced they are cooperating with the commission’s investigation and believe they are fully compliant with EU law. MSC are in the process of preparing a formal statement on the matter, with various news outlets claiming their involvement in the case.
The world's three largest container lines made clear that the investigation is separate from Europe’s consideration of the proposed P3 alliance, and that initiation of legal proceedings is not an indicator of the outcome of the EC’s investigation.
Earlier this month, Maersk affirmed there would be no commercial cooperation between P3's members, which together control around 37% of global fleet capacity.
P3 would be the largest alliance in the container trade and is currently under scrutiny from the US Federal Maritime Commission, which has called for a forum of US, European and Chinese regulators to discuss its implications.
Just yesterday the Asian Shippers Council expressed their concerns at the "untenable" concentration of tonnage involved in the proposed alliance.
The P3 Network would operate a capacity of 2.6m teu, starting with 255 vessels on 29 loops across three trade lanes: Asia - Europe, Trans-Pacific and Trans-Atlantic.
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