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EU-Funded 'PORTOPIA' Database Launched

by Ulrika Lomas, Tax-News.com, Brussels

04 October 2013


The European Sea Ports Organization (ESPO) has confirmed the launch of the PORTOPIA project, an online knowledge base and management system, which aims to make information regarding European ports' performance more accessible and transparent for industry stakeholders.

The project – part-funded by the European Commission – is to be coordinated by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Free University of Brussels, VUB) with support from 12 academic and industrial partners from 9 European countries, including ESPO.

The project aims to boost stakeholders' access to relevant data on ports' performance, including: market trends, socio-economic performance, environmental initiatives, safety records, operational efficiency, governance, finance and user feedback.

Explaining the initiative, Dimitrios Theologitis, head of the ports policy and inland waterways unit at the European Commission, said: "In recent years we have witnessed an impressive transformation of the role of ports in the transport chain. Adaptation to multimodality, introduction of advanced ICT systems, impressive changes in the port-ship interface and cutting edge logistics requirements are putting more and more pressure on ports. The PORTOPIA project is meant to document this progress and shows the strong commitment of the EU in supporting innovation."

ESPO Secretary General, Isabelle Ryckbost added: "PORTOPIA will allow ports to look in the mirror and see how they perform compared to meaningful averages and best practices. This can be the first step to improve performance or to convince the board of certain decisions to be made. But it can also be a tool to demonstrate to the broader port community how well one's port is functioning. It is of paramount importance that the results of this project fit the needs of the ports industry."

"Moreover, when participating, ports must be able to count on a certain confidentiality. There is no harm in showing the global picture of European ports when it comes to their performance on the environmental and socio-economic dimension. The inputs and outputs of each individual port should however only serve the given port and should not be open to others. Finally this project should alleviate the burden of filling in the same data for different purposes: ideally, it should result in a one-stop shop for port data."

The project, which will also cover inland ports, has a budget of around EUR4.2m (USD5.7m,) of which around EUR3m will be funded by the European Commission. It is to be the largest European research project on ports since the start of the European Port Policy in 1996.

TAGS: marine

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