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Commitments help realize a level playing field in container transport for inland shippers in the port of Rotterdam

Europe Container Terminals (ECT) has implemented the commitments it made to the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM). The commitments concerned 2019 and 2020, and were about ECT’s planning criteria for inland-shipping barges that transport containers between ECT’s deep sea terminals in the port of Rotterdam and its hinterland. ECT has made its planning criteria more transparent, and it has also implemented these criteria. As a result of the new planning criteria, barge operators know how the planning is established and what requirements they must meet in order to be given priority.

Handling of containers in the port

ECT has two terminals for handling containers in the port of Rotterdam. Large sea-going vessels moor here. At these terminals, containers are transferred to barges, trains, and trucks. The barges sail on to the hinterland in order to be unloaded there. The container terminals are an important link in the logistical network of container transport. During peak times, capacity at the terminal can sometimes be scarce, and therefore has to be used optimally. Each terminal makes use of a planning system to ensure that the container-handling process takes place as quickly and efficiently as possible.

In 2018, an ACM investigation suggested that, when planning the loading and unloading of barges, ECT sometimes did not treat similar situations equally. In addition, it turned out that, for some barge operators, it was not clear what requirements they had to meet in order to be given priority in ECT’s planning system. ACM identified competition risks. ECT’s current planning criteria are objective, reasonable, non-discriminatory, and transparent for all barge operators.

New planning system in the port of Rotterdam

In the course of 2021, companies in the port of Rotterdam are likely to start using ‘Nextlogic’. Nextlogic is an online planning system for handling barges, in which the various deep sea container terminals, transporters, and other service providers participate. The introduction of Nextlogic will ensure that the planning for a large number of barges is no longer done by individual container terminals, but that there is a central planning system instead. ACM will also continue to keep a close watch on that development in the port of Rotterdam.

Enforcing the rules on fair competition

ACM ensures that markets work well for people and businesses. Competition among businesses contributes to competitive prices, improves quality, and stimulates innovation. Competition keeps businesses on their toes when it comes to responding as effectively as possible to the wishes and needs of buyers. In this case, ACM chose to sit down with ECT about its market behavior, and got commitments, which would change that behavior. In this way, the anticompetitive concerns have been taken away.