Danish Shipowners Urge for Port Regulation’s Improvement

The Port Regulation, adopted on 8 March in the plenary of the European Parliament, has little to no impact on the market access to ports from a shipment’s point of view, according to the Danish Shipowners’ Association.

On the same day, the EU Parliament voted for the Knut Fleckenstein’s report, previously adopted by the Transport (TRAN) Committee.

This association plans to call for the regulation’s improvement in the upcoming trialogue meetings, collaborating with the European Community Shipowners’ Association (ESCA).

ESCA says that the European shipowners are disappointed with the TRAN text, since the chapter ‘organization of ports’ still remains an empty box, with some essential port services having been excluded.

“Although the initial purpose of the regulation was to liberalize EU port services, there are some critical elements to be addressed in the upcoming trialogue meetings,” DSA claims. The Parliament has, according to the association, ‘watered down the regulation’.

This is the third attempt at liberalization, after the previous two which, initiated by the Commission in 2001 and 2004, fell through.

“The ports will have to be transparent in terms of public subsidiaries, but not to liberalize the port services. Restrictive practices and legal obstacles are still prominent in many EU port service markets”, the Danish Shipowners’ Association observes.

Before the Port Regulation’s final adoption, the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament will have to discuss a few important issues – among of them is the challenge of the increasing size of vessels. A first meeting among the Member States is scheduled for March 2016.

“Basically, the decision of investing in larger tonnage is and should remain a commercial one. The text included in the Parliament’s report therefore takes an overly simplistic view of the issue. It is crucial for the Danish Shipowners’ Association that this rhetoric does not result in political decisions to further protect the ports and hamper the shipowners’ access to port services,” Simon Bergulf, Director EU Affairs for the Danish Shipowners’ Association, noted.

On the other hand, the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) sees the Parliament’s voting on the Port Regulation as one step closer to autonomy and a solid basis for starting negotiations with the Council.

“With this vote, Parliament has given a strong signal in favour of an organisation of port services that takes into account the diversity of ports in Europe, in favour of more transparency and in favour of more autonomy for the European ports to set their charges. (…) We really hope that these principles will not be watered down in the further negotiation process with the Council,” said ESPO’s Secretary General Isabelle Ryckbost.

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