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EC Discusses Future European Ports Policy

by Ulrika Lomas, for, Brussels

05 June 2006

Representatives from the European Commission on Thursday and Friday participated in the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) Conference in Stockholm, entitled 'A European Policy for Seaports – Suggestions on the way forward'.

The Commission has stated that it wants global reflection and a wide consultation process in order to redefine the foundations of the future European ports policy. Such a policy should, according to the EC, encompass the completion of the internal market in the sector, encourage transparent and non-discriminatory investment practices and enhance the role of ports in the transport chain.

European Commission Vice-President Jacques Barrot declared that:

“Ports are Europe’s windows to the world. European ports play a key role for our growth and jobs strategy and we must make sure that ports can handle the expected growth in maritime traffic. It is essential to promote investment and employment in the sector”.

The consultation process on the future EU ports policy was launched at the conference, where Vice-President Jacques Barrot presented his views on the challenges facing European ports and provided an indication of possible ways ahead.

The Commission has explained that the conclusions reached at the Conference will help to identify priority areas for developing actions and instruments.

Following the European Parliament’s rejection in first reading of a proposal for a Directive on market access to port services, and taking into account the clear lack of support for the proposal in the Council, the European Commission decided to withdraw the proposal in March 2006.

The development of a new European ports policy will form part of a wider process of policy definition for wider European transport policy.

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