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Competition

Competition: Proceedings against Color Line and the municipality of Sandefjord

6.3.2015

PR(15)08

The EFTA Surveillance Authority has opened formal antitrust proceedings against the ferry company Color Line and against the municipality of Sandefjord, Norway, to investigate whether they may have breached the EEA competition rules.

Color Line operates a passenger ferry line with tax-free sales between Sandefjord, Norway, and Strömstad, Sweden. Sandefjord municipality owns and operates Sandefjord harbour, on a commercial basis, and has a contractual agreement with Color Line on harbour access.

The Authority will investigate in particular whether the parties have restricted competition through their contractual agreement, and whether they may have abused a dominant market position, be that on the relevant market directed at the consumers (Color Line) or a market for harbour services provided to ferry companies (Sandefjord municipality). 

Specifically, the investigation will focus on the question whether Color Line's rights to use Sandefjord harbour unlawfully protects its sailing schedule. Such conduct may have impeded market entry and expansion of alternative ferry operators, thus limiting consumer choice and the prospect of lower prices and improved services.

Mr. Gjermund Mathisen, Director of the Authority's Competition & State Aid Directorate, stated: “The decision to open proceedings does not mean that the Authority has already made any finding of infringement and it does not prejudge in any way the outcome of the investigation; but it does mean that the Authority will thouroughly look into the matter.

In its investigation, the Authority will further assess the information already in its possession, and also gather more information from concerned parties.


Background

In December 2011, the Authority fined Color Line AS and Color Group AS 18.8 EUR million because they had infringed EEA competition rules by maintaining long-term exclusive rights to access the harbour of Strömstad, Sweden. The commercial agreements between Color Line and the municipality of Sandefjord that are now being investigated were not addressed in that decision.

However, the Authority has continued to monitor the market for passenger ferry service with tax-free sales between Norway and Sweden, including by gathering further information from Color Line, the municipality of Sandefjord and the municipality of Strömstad.


Documents:


For further information, please contact:

Mr. Gjermund Mathisen
Director
tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 60
mob. (+32)(0)491 86 32 57





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