The European Commission has fined railway companies Österreichische Bundesbahnen (ÖBB), Deutsche Bahn (DB) and Société Nationale des Chemins de fer belges / Nationale Maatschappij der Belgische Spoorwegen (SNCB) a total of €48 million for breaching EU antitrust rules.
The infringement concerned cross-border rail cargo transport services in the EU provided by ÖBB, DB and SNCB under the freight sharing model and carried out in “blocktrains” which are cargo trains shipping goods. The freight sharing model is a contract in international railway law in which railway companies perform cross-border rail services that provide customers with a single overall price for the service required under a single multilateral contract.
According to the Commission’s investigation, the above-mentioned companies exchanged collusive information on customer requests for competitive offers and provided each other with higher quotes to protect their respective business. The companies thus participated in a customer allocation cartel, which is prohibited under EU competition rules (Article 101 of TFEU prohibits cartels and other restrictive business practices, including collusion to allocate customers). All the companies admitted their involvement in the cartel and agreed to settle the case.
However, the Commission imposed fines based on the Commission's 2006 Guidelines on fines according to which:
Besides that, the Commission applied a reduction of 10% on the fines imposed in view of their acknowledgment of their participation in the cartel and of their liability in this respect. Thus, DB and SNCB received a fine of 48.324.000 € and 270.000 €.
(European Commission – 20.04.2021)
NAZALI TAX & LEGAL