Container terminal Europe Container Terminals (ECT) has made a commitment regarding its planning criteria for inland-shipping barges. The commitment concerns ECT’s planning process for barges that transport containers between ECT’s deep sea terminals in the port of Rotterdam and its hinterland. The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has concluded that the planning criteria in ECT’s commitment, are objective, reasonable, non-discriminatory, and transparent. ECT will publish the criteria on its website.
ECT has made this commitment, because the ACM had identified competition risks after an investigation. The commitment contributes to a level playing field for container transport by barge between the port of Rotterdam and its hinterland.
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, or 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 to ensure that the container-handling process takes place as quickly and efficiently as possible.
The ACM’s investigation
It emerges from the ACM’s investigation that, when planning the loading and unloading of barges, ECT sometimes may not treat similar situations equally. In addition, it appears that, for some barge operators, it is not clear what requirements they must meet in order to be given priority in ECT’s planning system. The ACM has not established an infringement, but it has identified competition risks. With this commitment, these risks are avoided.
What is next?
The ACM will declare the commitment binding, and will cease its investigation into ECT. The ACM will make the commitment available for public consultation for six weeks in order to allow interested parties to react to it.
The ACM and the ports
The ACM is working towards creating a level playing field for companies that are active in the port because sea ports are important for our economy. In the port, goods are imported, handled, processed, and retransported. Companies that operate in the ports work together intensively. As they should, in order to process goods quickly, and to transport them from A to B. The ACM wants companies that operate in the ports to compete fairly with each other, and wants them to have the same opportunities. Healthy competition allows for a thriving port sector, and for innovation. That is why the ACM provides guidance and education, and takes action when competition is at risk. In this way, the ACM promotes a healthy port economy.
More information about cartels in ports (in Dutch)