A business consortium in Europe is developing a legal framework that will allow companies on the continent to collaborate on transportation and warehousing services without violating European antitrust laws.
The group, known as Collaboration Concepts for Co-modality (CO3), expects to complete its work next year, according to Sven Verstrepen of TriVizor, a Belgian company that orchestrates supply chain collaborations. The project was seeded with a grant from the European Commission (EC), the European Union's (EU) antitrust arm. The EC believes shared logistics services could help reduce Europe's dependence on foreign oil, ease traffic congestion, and cut greenhouse gas emissions, Verstrepen said.
The framework will, among other things, describe how companies could establish a "neutral trustee" to organize and manage a shared network so competing shippers could work together without running afoul of the law, Verstrepen said. "Legally, you need to put up a firewall between competitors," he said at the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) Europe Conference 2013 in Amsterdam.
CO3 also is sponsoring pilot tests for "co-loading," where shippers use the same carrier to deliver their goods to shared customers. Verstrepen said the tests will demonstrate ways shippers can distribute costs and share the benefits from logistics collaboration.
The EC used to approve collaborative agreements in advance. Today companies can move forward on partnerships without government approval, and the EC will intervene only when it believes legal boundaries have been violated, Verstrepen said.
This article was updated on June 27, 2013.
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