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EC Adopts Mid-Term Review Of Short Sea Shipping

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

14 July 2006

The European Commission has adopted a Mid-Term Review of the Programme for the Promotion of Short Sea Shipping.

The Review evaluates the results of the 14 actions that were introduced in 2003 to enhance the efficiency of short sea shipping in Europe.

The EC stated that short sea shipping has proven to be a transport success story with good growth rates, but further growth must be attained.

Short Sea Shipping is a logistics concept performing the sea leg of door-to-door freight transport of containers, trailers, general cargo and bulk within Europe and with countries geographically close to Europe.

Commenting, European Commission Vice-President Jacques Barrot, who is in charge of Transport policy, observed that: “Motorways of the Sea are a crucial initiative to make transportation of goods in Europe more efficient and environmentally friendly.”

Between 1995 and 2004, the ton-kilometre performance of Short Sea Shipping in the EU-25 grew by 32%, while road performance grew by 35%. Short Sea Shipping performs 39% of all ton-kilometres in the EU-25, while the share of road is 44%. The fastest growing segment of Short Sea Shipping is containerised cargo, with average yearly growth rates of 8.8% since 2000.

According to the EC, the 14 actions introduced in the original Promotion Programme appear to have been well chosen, and work on all of them should continue in co-operation with Member States, industry and the European Shortsea Network.

The actions include uniform reporting formalities for ships to enter or depart from EU ports; guidance for successful Short Sea Promotion Centres which offer advice on the use of Short Sea Shipping; and the elimination of obstacles that hinder the development of Short Sea Shipping.

Also, a list of 161 bottlenecks identified in 2000 has now been reduced to 35. Such bottlenecks range from complexity in customs documents and procedures for intra-Community trade to waiting times in ports for unloading ships.

The Mid-Term Review proposes that some of the 14 original measures should be retargeted in order to:

  • Work towards making the first high-quality Motorways of the Sea operational in Europe by 2010. The Commission will also examine whether the concept of Motorways of the Sea can be extended to a quality label for logistics excellence in Short Sea Shipping;
  • Examine the possibility of extending the scope of short-sea promotion towards the promotion of multimodal solutions in inland transport as part of the overall logistics chain; and
  • Improve the integration of the mode in the multimodal logistics supply chain to coincide with the modern image that Short Sea Shipping has already acquired.

"Progress is now crucial with regard to the proposed directive for intermodal loading units," the EC stated.

"This directive would lead to standardised, more efficient and stackable equipment that facilitates the transfer of freight from one transport mode to another. Such standardisation would lead to more efficient and productive logistics chains in Europe," it added.

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