Friday, 31 December 2021 13:49

Press Release – Settlement Procedure: Decision on the ex-officio investigation in the ferry connection market of the port of Igoumenitsa with the island of Corfu (HCC 759/2021)

Subject: Decision on the ex-officio investigation in the ferry connection market of the port of Igoumenitsa with the island of Corfu, for infringement of article 1 of national competition law 3959/2011.

The Plenary Session of the Hellenic Competition Commission (HCC), by its unanimous Decision (no. 759/2021), according to the simplified procedure for dispute settlement of article 25a of law 3959/2011, and in accordance with its Decision no. 704/2020, approved the relevant proposals for dispute settlement that were submitted by the companies: i) Joint Venture of Corfu Ferries under the distinctive name “Kerkyra Lines” and ii) Joint Venture Igoumenitsa – Kerkyra - Paxon under the distinctive name “Kerkyra Seaways”.

The Decision was issued according to the simplified procedure, following a relevant expression of interest on behalf of the companies for their inclusion in the dispute settlement procedure and the subsequent final declaration of acceptance of the infringement found.

The HCC imposed reduced fines, due to the dispute settlement procedure for the infringement found, based on the reasoning of the Decision, of article 1 of law 3959/2011, that is it imposed a total of €189.972 to the Joint Venture of Corfu Ferries (Kerkyra Lines)  and a total of €134.892 to the Joint Venture of Igoumenitsa – Kerkyra - Paxos (Kerkyra Seaways). The total amount of the fine was €324,864.

Dispute Settlement Procedure

The dispute settlement procedure concerns cases where companies or associations of companies, admit their participation, voluntarily and without reservation, to a horizontal agreement, in breach of article 1 of law 3959/2011 or/ and article 101 TFEU, and facilitate, in this way, the procedure followed for the proof of the infringement. In these cases a reduction of the fine by 15% is granted under certain conditions.

The objective of the dispute settlement procedure is the simplification and acceleration of the administrative procedure leading to the adoption of decisions by the HCC for infringements of article 1 of law 3959/2011 or/ and article 101 TFEU, as well as the restriction of the number of appeals against the decisions of the Commission before the Administrative Courts of Appeal.

This enables the Commission to deal with more cases with its own resources and with less administrative burden, thus increasing the deterrent nature of its action and, at the same time, enhancing the interest of the citizens for the effective and timely punishment of offenders.


Following information received by the Directorate - General for Competition (DG) and the preliminary investigation carried out, it was decided to launch an ex-officio investigation to examine the conditions of competition at the ferry connection services of the port of Igoumenitsa with the island of Corfu. On 09.07.2020, the DG carried out an on-site inspection (dawnraid) at the headquarters of the above companies. Furthermore, in order to evaluate the documents collected during the dawnraid, statements without oath were taken from the legal representatives of the aforementioned joint ventures and questionnaires (Requests For Information) were sent.

Based on the investigation of the DG, there was direct or indirect communication between the two competing companies regarding their future behavior at the ferry connection services of Igoumenitsa - Corfu – Igoumenitsa, concerning ticket prices and the itinerary declarations of the joint ventures.

In this regard, “Kerkyra Lines” and “Kerkyra Seaways” consortia have launched a joint action plan to set minimum ticket prices and to proceed with market sharing (by allocating the number of routes between them) as well as to formulate a commonly accepted itinerary program for the future, in the ferry connection market of Igoumenitsa – Kerkyra - Igoumenitsa. The aim of the cartel was to set prices at different levels from those that would have been set under conditions of free competition and to distribute customers between them.

The infringement started on 24.01.2019, and was concluded on 09.07.2020, the date on which the on-site inspection (dawnraid) of the DG took place at the headquarters of the joint ventures.

The two joint ventures, for which evidence was collected, capable of establishing an infringement of article 1 of law 3959/2011, expressed in written form their interest to be included in the dispute settlement procedure and submitted a relevant request, in accordance with the provisions of par. 30 of the Notice on the dispute settlement procedure.

Relevant Market

The relevant product market concerning the present case is the provision of ferry services in straits/channels. The relevant geographic market is the ferry connection at the strait/channel between Igoumenitsa-Corfu.

Legal assessment

This is an agreement between the involved joint ventures/consortia, which seeks to restrict competition between them through a horizontal agreement on setting prices and market sharing (itineraries). Horizontal agreements, involving pricing and market sharing, constitute serious restrictions of competition. With regard to the actual (or potential) impact on the market, it is considered that the observed restriction of competition (pricing and market sharing) has an impact on the market by its nature, which, however, concerns a market with limited geographical coverage - the ferry connection at the strait/channel between Igoumenitsa and Corfu.

It is mentioned that this is the fourth case at HCC, where all the companies involved in the infringement enter the settlement procedure before the drafting of the Statement of Objections by the Directorate General of Competition, which increases the procedural efficiency of HCC, while the case was completed in just 1.5 years from the beginning of the investigation (the average time for the completion of cartel cases without a settlement procedure in the European Competition Commission is about 50 months).

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