• France's news in English

UK bans Eurotunnel's cross-Channel ferry link

Ben McPartland · 27 Jun 2014, 10:11

Published: 27 Jun 2014 10:11 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority confirmed on Friday an earlier decision to ban Eurotunnel from running its cross-Channel ferry service MyFerryLink, that was formally Sea France.

Eurotunnel will have six months to stop service and will have to find a buyer for its MyFerryLink ferries so it becomes "completely independent" from the operator of the Channel Tunnel, Britain's competition authorities ruled.

The ban on operating the three MyFerryLink boats threatens around 600 jobs, 100 of which are in Dover.

French daily Le Parisien earlier described the ban, which will not be enforced immediately, as a "blow from Trafalgar".

Eurotunnel bought the boats after SeaFrance went into administration in 2012, before re-launching the service under the name MyFerryLink.

Their grounds for taking the action is that they believe Eurotunnel has gained too big a share of the cross-Channel market, mainly due to the fact it owns the Channel Tunnel roll-on/roll-off rail service.

The UK’s Competition Commission says Eurotunnel's purchase of the Sea France boats, was more a takeover deal for a company, rather than just assets and was made to prevent rival company DFDS from buying the ferries.

The commission believes the likely outcome of Eurotunnel’s takeover of the SeaFrance boats would be price rises for passengers and freight customers on the route.

MyFerryLink on Friday said it would appeal the ruling and told its customers it would continue running the services during the busy summer season.

"We continue fundamentally to disagree with the CMA on a number of critical points. First and foremost we do not consider that the CMA has jurisdiction to review the transaction as a matter of UK merger law," MyFerryLink said in a statement.

"It is also manifestly the case that the CMA's decision, which will reduce choice, is bad for consumers, bad for competition and bad for all those involved in cross-Channel operations."

An initial decision to ban MyFerryLink was taken in June last year but it was then overturned on appeal. However Friday's verdict turned the tide once more and will mean Eurotunnel likely having to sell off at least two of the ferries.

However that would need clearance from the French commercial court, which previously banned the sale of ferries.

Story continues below…

“Since we don’t have the right to sell the ferries, they will simply be taken out of circulation and dry docked,” a Eurotunnel spokesman has said in the past.

Eurotunnel argues that the UK authorities had not taken into account changes in the market since it launched the service.

“Two years after the acquisition of three ferries and following the decision of the Appeal Tribunal, which rejected the original decision by the Competition Commission, Groupe Eurotunnel submitted to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) that a material change of market had occurred, based upon the 12% growth since SeaFrance ceased its operations,” a statement from the company read.

"DFDS continues to operate successfully in the market, whereas the Competition Commission's original decision was based on the premise that DFDS would rapidly be forced to exit the market," the statement added.


Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Is Marks & Spencer to close Champs-Elysées store?
Photo: AFP

Is it goodbye to crumpets, jam, and English biscuits?

After Calais, France faces growing migrant crisis in Paris
Photo: AFP

While all the focus has been on the closure of the Jungle in Calais, France must deal with the thousands of migrants sleeping rough in Paris. And their numbers are growing.

Restaurant boss suspected of kidnapping Cannes millionaire
The Nice residence of the president of Cannes' Grand Hotel, Jacqueline Veyrac. Photo: AFP

A restaurant owner 'harbouring a grudge', apparently.

Le Thought du Jour
Vive le pont - The best thing about French public holidays
Photo: AFP

The UK might have guaranteed public holidays, but France has "les ponts".

What's on in France: Top things to do in November
Don't miss the chocolate fashion show in Lyon. Photo: Salon du chocolat

The autumn is in full swing in France, and there's plenty to do.

What Paris 'squalor pit' Gare du Nord will look like in future
All photos: Wilmotte et Assoicés

IN PICTURES: The universally accepted 'squalor pit of Europe' is finally getting a facelift.

Halloween: The ten spookiest spots in Paris
Is there really a ghost on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower? Photo: AFP

Read at your own peril.

Halloween holiday in France: Traffic nightmares and sun!
Photo: AFP

But it's great news for the country's beleaguered tourism industry.

French MPs vote to make Airbnb 'professionals' pay tax
Photo: AFP

Do you make a lot of money through Airbnb in France? You'll have to pay a share to the taxman in future.

France and Britain accused of abandoning Calais minors
Photo: AFP

Scores of young migrants are forced to sleep rough for a second night.

Fifteen of the most bizarre laws in France
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Medieval town in south of France upholds ban on UFOs
Mouth fun? French words you just can't translate literally
How France plans to help its stressed-out police force
Paris: 'Flying' water taxis to be tested on River Seine
Paris landlords still charging illegally high rents
Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Lonely Planet says Bordeaux is world's best city to visit
What rights to a future in France for Calais migrants?
Myth busting: Half of French adults are now overweight
How speaking French can really mess up your English
The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
jobs available