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Competition Key To European Port Industry Growth

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

31 October 2013

In a speech on building a competitive future for Europe's ports, Siim Kallas, the Vice President of the European Commission, has highlighted the importance of bringing down barriers to entry to the European port markets and supporting equal progress at less-developed ports.

He identified that there is a significant divide between leading ports, such as Rotterdam, Antwerp and Hamburg, and other European ports. By fostering the development of other European ports, and ensuring fair competition, Kallas believes that the competitiveness of Europe's maritime transport services as a whole can be bolstered.

He said that reform is necessary to ensure that Europe's maritime sector can keep pace with global developments, remaining a world-leading force. Efforts in this area will ensure that the sector receives the maximum boost from the EU's transport infrastructure capacity-building initiative the Trans-European Transport Network (T-ENT).

"My intention is to extend the best practices of well-functioning ports to those that have not yet fully realised their potential. As the largest EU port in goods handled, Rotterdam is already a showcase for the European port industry. During the drafting phase, we found many examples of good practice in Dutch ports, particularly in Rotterdam, and you will see these reflected in the final proposals."

"As we know, not all ports offer the same high-level service as Rotterdam, or Antwerp, or Hamburg. Efficiency and performance vary a lot around Europe," he continued. "As the trade gateways to Europe's single market, ports cannot be allowed to become bottlenecks because of poor or congested connections to their surrounding areas, or because of under-performing services."

Turning to discuss state aid, he noted that the Commission is working to ensure that ports are not benefiting from illegitimate state support. He disclosed that the Commission is pushing for greater transparency concerning ports' funding. Likewise, he underscored that barriers to market entry need to come down to support new market entrants to tender fairly for port services contracts.

Concluding, Kallas reinforced that: "This is not about creating needless regulatory pressure, or more red tape. In fact, it's just the opposite. It is about simplifying procedures and trying to cut unnecessary port costs. We estimate the proposal could save the EU economy up to EUR10bn (USD13.6bn) by 2030.

TAGS: marine

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