It is hard to know where the MyFerryLink operation goes after the latest ruling of the UK competition authority the CMA (Competition and Markets Authority - a new body replacing the Competition Commission). It continues to state the French co-operative should be given six month’s notice to cease operating between Dover and Calais. The ferry company said it will exercise its legal right to appeal once more if the CMA maintains their view in their fi nal report due out as we go to press. The ferry company state: “MyFerryLink continues to believe that the CMA does not have jurisdiction to review the transaction as a matter of UK merger law,” going on to say; “Given the fundamental changes and growth in the market over the past 12 months we are also surprised that the CMA has concluded there has been ‘no material change’ in market conditions since its previous report in June 2013.”
In their turn the CMA say that even though passenger growth has been greater than they anticipated they believe at least two of the three Dover-Calais ferry operators are loss making. So if MyFerryLink, backed by Eurotunnel, was to stay in business one of the others might close and this would give Eurotunnel too much control over Channel tra c by sea and tunnel combined. The CMA has apparently considered the co-op running independently of Eurotunnel but has rejected this as it would need new fi nancing and would inevitably cause much further delay and uncertainty.
We are in new legal and international diplomatic territory here. I can’t see the 500 or so French jobs being given up quietly even if the UK is used to more acquiescence from labour these days given there will also be 60 or so UK jobs a ected. It does look as if the lawyers will be making more money out of this debacle before it is finally resolved.