EU raids on ferries

The European Commission has confirmed that its officials have inspected the premises of several cross channel operators.

EU officials undertook simultaneous and unannounced inspections as a preliminary step towards investigating cartel operations. Evidence collected will now be considered before any formal investigation begins.

Consumers complained that prices for cross channel services are too high, and similar for each operator. This triggered the inspections although the EU has stated that the inspections do not presuppose any guilt on the part of the firms.

Three cross channel firms, Stena AB, P&O and Eurotunnel have made statements about the inspections, indicating their willingness to co-operate with the authorities, and arguing that no collusion has taken place.

The European Union has the power to investigate any possible case of price fixing as part of legislation that makes cartel operations illegal.

It has also been reported that the EU is inspecting ferry services in other parts of Europe, and all involved have been warned that proceedings may take some time.

An EU spokesman stated: ‘There is no strict deadline to complete cartel inquiries. Their duration depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of each case, the exercise of the right of defence and by the respect of the European Commission’s consultation and other procedures. ‘