The Trans-Atlantic Conference Agreement (Taca) has strongly rejected the European Commission's decision to impose 272.94 million ecu (about HK$2.45 billion) in fines on its 15 members for alleged anti-competitive practices. 'The decision is based on numerous errors of fact, procedure and law and will be appealed to the European Court for annulment and suspension,' Taca chairman Olav Rakkenes said. The activities to which the commission objected were permitted under European law and were accepted by all developed seafaring nations, he said. Hong Kong's Orient Overseas Container Line, a member of Taca, was fined 20.63 million ecu. Anglo-Dutch P&O Nedlloyd received the most severe fine of 41.26 million ecu, followed by Denmark's Maersk Line with 27.5 million ecu. In its landmark decision, the commission said fines might be imposed later on the price agreement related to inland transport services within the European Union. It said Taca and its predecessor had increased prices by more than 80 per cent between 1993 and 1995. A Business Times report in Singapore said the US Federal Maritime Commission estimated that Taca price increases in 1995 compared with 1994 levels cost shippers an additional US$65 million to $75 million. Mr Rakkenes said Taca member lines consistently had sought to reach an accommodation with the EC and had demonstrated a willingness to modernise the conference system. Taca members, who have about two months to pay the fines, may ask the European Court to suspend payment until a final ruling on this case is reached. The case could take as long as two to three years.