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EU Developing New Port Governance Framework

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

28 May 2013

The European Sea Ports Organization (ESPO) has welcomed the content of two new publications from the European Commission, including a proposal to establish a framework on market access to port services and the financial transparency of ports, and a communication on ports policy.

Responding to the new policy documents, ESPO welcomed the Commission's recognition of the importance of port infrastructure to the European economy, building on the Commission's earlier initiative to give ports a central position in the Trans-European Transport Network, but also voiced concern about the potential implications the regulation proposal may have on the autonomy of port authorities.

The proposed legal framework on market access and financial transparency aims to enhance competition in the port and port services industry in Europe, namely by reducing barriers to entry to the port services market; by tackling monopolistic and oligopolistic market dominance in some nations; and by fostering improved communication between private operators and between national authorities to reduce the administrative burden placed on port users.

ESPO Secretary General, Patrick Verhoeven responded, stating: "We appreciate that the Commission intends to recognize the central role of port authorities and we support the provisions of the regulation that aim to create greater financial transparency At the same time, we are concerned about the competencies that the regulation attributes to other authorities and the impact some of the proposed procedures may have on the commercial freedom of ports and their ability to invest."

In addition, the regulation proposes to exclude cargo handling and passenger services from EU market access rules. ESPO has said it believes that an inclusive, non-legislative approach, covering all port services, would have been more balanced and proportional in this respect, and intends to discuss possible amendments with the European Commission when the industry is engaged in forthcoming consultations.

TAGS: marine

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