PortEconomics followed the high-level Conference on European Ports Policy Review: “Unlocking the Growth Potential” (Brussels, 25-26 September 2012) and reports events, interventions, and all you want to know about stakeholders views on the future of the European Port Policy as happened:
Day-1: Tuesday 25-September
Opening (14h00): The high-level two days-Conference European Ports Policy Review: “Unlocking the Growth Potential” begins in Brussels (25-26 September 2012).
More than 400 people are attending the event, representing the different stakeholders in the port sector. The aim of the conference, which is organised by the European Commission, is to analyse the current EU policy framework for ports, which is laid down in a communication of the Commission that was published in 2007. The outcome of the review is not decided yet, with options ranging between doing nothing, guidance on application of Treaty rules and full-blown legislation. A central part of the conference is also the role of ports as key nodes of the pan-European corridors 2030: A major innovation on the new Trans European Transport Network (TEN-T) guidelines is the introduction of 10 implementing pan-European corridors.
The program is available at the official website of the event: Conference on European Ports Policy Review: “Unlocking the Growth Potential”.
Siim Kallas (Vice-President of the European Commission): “The European Ports Policy Review initiative of the European Commission is neither about micro-management, nor about interruption of what works in European ports”. This is not an “one size fits all” policy but a policy “about what works in European ports” and the expansion of such practices. The Commissioner emphasised the presence of restrictions in the case of many services, the fact that several services are provided by few operators needs to be addressed. Explicit reference was made first to the different concepts of concessions in different member states and the ‘tricky’ issues of relationships between the port authorities and the operators. The results of 512 responses to the European Commission survey from port stakeholders across Europe showed that concession contracts were not always being made using non-discriminatory and transparent procedures. He warned that ports needed a fair competitive environment and legal certainty to attract business. Restrictive practices at European ports concerning concession awards, access to port services and the closed shops of labour cargo-handling set-ups is hampering growth at European ports. Based on all these, there is a need to clarify rules. A second issue mentioned where port charges, as ports need to charge for services they provide. Finally, there was an explicit mentioning on the need for financial transparency. Simon Kallas concluded that the EPP “is not aiming to suggest models but to removing barriers and increase transparency”.
Patrick Verhoeven (PortEconomics member) tweets: “Port authorities acting also as commercial operators may lead to conflicts of interest” – Siim Kallas opens EU Ports Policy Conference. Siim Kallas tweets: “to attract more business, ports need a fair competitive environment and legal certainty”. Full speech by Commissioner is now available: “A vital resource: Europe’s ports face wind of change” and for or our viewers’ facilitation, herewith his address:
Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you all for coming to this conference today: your presence demonstrates your commitment to contribute to a new European ports policy. I would like to thank you for the 500 or so replies which the Commission has received to its recent policy consultation. Of course, we are all here today in our respective roles. We all have our interests and they will not always converge. What I would like to achieve from this conference is to discuss the issues together, test the ideas – to set the scene for our work, and identify the core elements for a new policy. Ports are Europe’s windows onto the world. We expect, and hope for, a great deal of growth in the years ahead as ports handle more tonnage and passengers. I am pleased to say that most respondents in our consultation – including port authorities and users – agreed with that view.
But we have to ask where that likely growth and demand will leave European ports in 15 to 20 years’ time. Ships are getting larger and more sophisticated. Ports face serious challenges in terms of productivity, investment needs, sustainability, human resources as well as integration with cities and regions. They will have to adapt a great deal to cope with this extra pressure. And we also saw from the consultation that not everyone agrees whether our ports are ready to face these challenges.Ports, and particularly the major core ports in the trans-European transport network (TEN-T), are not just a concern of their local community. Their hinterland extends far into the rest of the country, and they often act as major gateways for the economies of the neighbouring countries as well. However, our ports vary widely in their operational efficiency, which creates a real divide across Europe in performance and quality of services. Today’s many bottlenecks are often due to low efficiency and sometimes due to restrictive labour and other non-competitive regimes operating inside the port. It is vitally important that ports are able to compete efficiently and globally against rival ports, both to the north and south of the European Union. That means improving their rail access, connecting motorways, upgrading rivers and inland waterways that feed into ports, just to name a few areas.
But building more infrastructure will not be enough on its own. We have to ensure that ports themselves work as efficiently as possible, making good use of resources and minimising their environmental impact. This is the overall goal of the envisaged ports policy review. In concrete terms, you have helped us to identify issues regarding, for instance, the management of ports, labour regimes, authorisations, charges, concessions and services, and the relationship between port authorities and service providers. There are many different operating models and a lack of clear EU-wide rules, which in some cases prevent a fair competition environment. I believe that the time has come to establish a more coherent ports policy and finally, a real strategic vision for EU ports. It is also time to give some legal certainty to port operators and service providers, not least as an incentive to attract long-term investments. Our proposed review is not about micro-management or disrupting longstanding business models or natural geographical markets if they are working well. And it is not about forcing a ‘one-size-fits-all’ model onto a widely diversified industry. That was also clear from your answers to the consultation, which is now helping us to identify where the main differences lie. There should be flexibility to take local circumstances into account, based on an examination of best practices. But firstly, the underlying conditions must be equal so that ports can compete in an open and fair way. As I said, we are still listening to all ideas and views from across Europe’s port community.
One major headache is the provision of services: vital for port efficiency, the competitiveness of EU exporters and the supply needs of the wider economy. But service provision today is riddled with inefficiencies – in cost, quality and reliability. While many ports do operate in a competitive environment, technical-nautical and cargo handling services are often restricted to just one, or to a handful of established operators. This makes ports one of the few sectors in the European economy where we still have monopolies and exclusive rights. In many EU countries, port authorities make “closed-door” agreements for the provision of port services. There are no clear EU-wide rules to cover today’s varied patchwork of national regulations, where different types of market barriers prevent services from developing and becoming more productive. This also makes it difficult to monitor or measure performance. Market access in general, the lack of choice between providers, came through clearly in the consultation as problem areas. So we need to review port restrictions on service provision, especially given that many Member States still favour strategies which focus exclusively on national, not European, needs.
EU countries also apply different concepts to concessions, which are not always awarded in a non-discriminatory, objective or transparent way. Then there is the tricky relationship between port authority and service provider. In some countries, there is a national authority; in others, there are local, regional and even private ones. Our concern comes when a port authority acts simultaneously as a commercial operator, because then we might be looking at a potential conflict of interest. The different roles and responsibilities of the two sides need to be properly defined, and the rules clarified and simplified. Concession contracts must be awarded following a transparent, objective and fair procedure. This will give legal certainty to commercial operators and incentives for long-term investment. The same applies to port charges, where there is no guarantee that they are set in a transparent and non-discriminatory way. Again, we have a situation where different ports apply different structures and systems. Some apply a single tariff for all services; others have separate and individual tariffs for each service.
We also need to examine the issue of financial transparency. Under today’s EU rules, many publicly owned ports do not have to keep separate accounts between their economic activities. This makes it hard to follow the funding streams and ensure there is no breach of state aid rules. In any case, public funding should not be used to distort port charges, which should be set in a transparent and non-discriminatory way. Finally, on labour issues. This works well in some ports. But in others, some of the practices are highly restrictive and amount to what is, in effect, a ‘closed shop’ where service providers may not employ personnel of their own choice. These practices are restrictive, leading to monopolies and higher prices. We need to find a balance where there can be adequate guarantees of social protection. Ports would need to employ only qualified personnel to avoid social dumping, especially as the nature of port work is becoming more specialised. Ladies and gentlemen, These are certainly challenging times for the EU port industry, which I believe is now at a critical point to move ahead proactively and tackle them. It is not for me or for the Commission to tell ports how their business should be run, or to suggest particular business models. But it is about having greater transparency and fewer restrictions, about removing barriers for new entrants who want to tender fairly and openly for port services. Thank you for listening and I wish you a productive discussion as we work together to shape a new policy for this vital, complex and strategic industry. ++
Brian Simpson (MEP, Chair of TRAN Committee, European Parliament): There are complaints about cheap labour and the negative consequences on port labour regimes. Expressed his concerns about existing thoughts to privatize pilots. Overall, he stated, the EP would not be happy to hear that there are headquarters undermining the importance of skilled labour. A positive view about the efforts of the Commission to increase the competitiveness of European ports by promoting TEN, supporting Commission proposals on funding. The, experienced on port policy issues, MEP pointed that this should go hand-in-hand with the defence of a social chapter. The request was for a policy that represents ‘climb to the top’ rather than ‘race to the bottom’. On that base, he talked about a third package that includes performance quality and employment. That said, he reminded that in the EP inter-port competition, especially between ports in different countries.
Patrick Verhoeven (PortEconomics member) tweets: “MEP Brian Simpson, ‘veteran’ of the ports packages reminds Commission that Parliament rejected port services proposals twice”
A. Kokinos (represneting the Cyprus Presidency of the EU) quotes the ESPO Manifesto: “EU potentially a positive force in establishing renaissance of port management policy”. He also focus on three vital issues for the future of the European Ports Policy: (a) open markets; (b) technology; (c) Trans-European Networks.
Prof Hercules Haralmbides (Erasmus University Rotterdam): “port authorities need to depart from their civil servant mentality”. Focusing or efficiency and reliability, and the fact that logistics are more profitable than shipping, or port-to-port services, Prof. Haralambides noted that several port authorities are landlord on paper as they continue their intense ivolvment in several strategic decisions. His recommendations about the themes that future port policies need to address included (a) Presence of port authorities that are highly enterpreneurial and market oriented; (b) ‘real’ landlord port authorities (with autonomy in their financing, pricing, real estate management, and labour operations); (c) emphasis on green efficiency; (d) Port labour: advance training of young professionals, according to ILO standards, employed in an open port labour market; (e) state aid guidelines and clear definition of ‘public vs. private invesment” in the port sectr; and (f) free – albeit well regulated – access to provide services needed to be ensured. PortEconomics makes available the key-note presentation by (and courtesy to) Prof. Hercules Haralambides: Ports as engines of growth & employment (same will be added here on Monday 1 oct)
PricewaterhouseCoopers/NEA report on the consultation servey: Based on 512 replies (Shipping Companies 18%; Port Authorities 22%, Port Users 5%, Terminal operators 13%, workers 8%; services providers 33%): •Future of trade: 41% feel that the future will be positive; only 9% feel that a decline lies ahead, 50% did not see the current trend to change; Most positive about the future of seaborne trade are port customers (55%), port authorities 54% and shipping companies (47%). •Congestion in ports; Shipping lines: 48% never; 31% seldom; 21% feel its presence; Ports feel quite differently: 77% never; 16% seldom, 7% feel its presence; for ports there is hardly any congestion, •Port Choice Criteria (scale 1-5): Physical attributes: 4.7; presence of passenger services 4.42; cargo services 4.39; Port organisation 4.32; labour 4.23; towage 3.97; pilotage 3.92; environmental services 3.74; •70-80% of respondents to EC ports survey do not see particular challenges for port services; yet the rest 20-30% disagree. Patrick Verhoeven tweets: “North-south differences in awarding terminal contracts confirmed through results EC ports survey by PWC/NEA report”.
Victor Schoenmakers (ESPO Chairman): We firmly believe that the European Union has the potential to be a positive force in establishing a renaissance of port management and policy. This can be done by, on the one hand, ensuring a level playing field and legal certainty, and, on the other hand, fostering growth and development of ports. Raising the specific challenges of port authorities, Mr Schoenmakers highlighted access to port land as a principal point of attention. “The most important asset that port authorities have is land. The way port authorities give access to that land to operators is therefore essential. Whether PAs do this through public domain concessions or private land lease contracts is irrelevant. What matters is the ability to balance transparency and flexibility when using these instruments. Having clear, but also proportional guidance on the application of relevant Treaty rules is for port authorities an essential element of a common ports policy, next to guidance on state-aid and guidance on the freedom to provide services.
Juan Riva (ECSA Chairman): Ports and hinterland connections are important for shipowners. As is concession prices and the TEN network proposals. This is because both make port services more efficient. As regards concessions, fair transparent, and relevant conditions that provide ‘standards for the market’ are important. It is also important that port users are charged for only the services they actually use. Port services need to be modernised, and provided according to market principles, in line with the clients need and the EU rules. Another important issue for shipowners is ‘red tape’. According to Juan Riva, “‘soft law’ approach of 2007 did not deliver expected results”, but also “ECSA welcomes the approach by S. Kalas on EPP”.
Denis Choumert (Chairman, ESC): Shippers are the ‘2nd line’; they are aksed to head to one way by ship owners and they follow. Thus they need visibility of the field, and short-term, medium, long-term, horizon. KPIs are important for them, as is connectivity, because they need to address the risk. Liberalisation of services is welcomed as it would increase the options available to shippers.
Roland Homer (President, EFIP): Inland ports are not facilitators of external trade. The nature of competition is different, as being close to other inland ports is considered a plus. Road transport is the competititor. For inland ports the development of the waterfront is important. The three main challenges for inland ports are (a) infrastructure (b) historical function as entry points (and the lack of land and space to develop; (c) the need to take economic measures and develop. For the latter, inland ports need data, indicators that will support the measures taken.
Full statement by ESPO President realeased: ESPO statement Gunther Bonz, (President, FEPORT): We offer 500.000 jobs and spent 5 billion Euros in a decade in infrastructure improvements. This is an industry, not a public service. An industry investing highly. Terminal operators are a higly competitive industry that faces intra-port and inter-port competion, while it competes with non-EU countries as well. There is no lack of capacity. FEPORT looks for investment security, means for the prolongation of concessions. Hinterland access is also a major issue, especially when the investments by the terminal operators are not matched by respective investments. Finally, for port operators there is a challenge due to environmental rules that request continuous adjustments. In total, €100 m of planned investment in new capacity from Europe’s private operators over the next five years would be at risk if any future EU port legislation interferes with the prolongation of existing concessions some of which will expire by 2015. Returns on major new investments would take longer than two or three years to achieve.
Debate on Port Labour Erick van Hoydock (Portius): Conducted a survey about three aspects of port labour: (a) organisation of labour market (b) training and (c) health and safety in 22 member states. The aim is a toolbox for policy makers and a database allowing: Collection of figures ands sources of law, the description of current situation, Inventory of legal and policy issues, and an outline of possible actions at EU level. Labour is a delicate issue, as it is a contentious and taboo-ridder subject and the rejection of PP2 and PP3 is fresh in the memories.
A key question is whether there are special characteristics of port labour due to (ir)regularity of demand, the transformation from unskilled work to multi-skilling, and the different occupational risk levels. In general, a number of restrictions were identified, either on employment or working practices. So while restrictions can be justified if certain conditions are met, they are in general incompatible with EU Law, and in some cases even inter-wined with restrictions on access to the port services market The list of restrictions include (a) Compulsory membership of labour pool; (b) exclusive right of labour pool to supply workers; (c) Mandatory registration of port workers; (d) compulsory membership of trade union (closed shop), (e) Compulsory appointment or nomination of pool members employes, etc. Self-handling is not a major issue, as there is no general demand by ship-owners to introduce it Based on the high diversity of organisational patterns training and health and safety regime across the EU, the policy options range from ‘do nothing’ to imposing conditions, or anything in between, with the EU principles of subsidiarity, proportionality, effectiveness, and acceptance imposing the need to act. Patrick Verhoeven tweets: “Are port workers different from other workers? Key question for port labour debate”.
Livia Spera (ETF): A major question fie ETF members was whether it would be useful to participate at the discussions for the reform of the EPP. Several members of ETF are convinced that industrial action is the only way ahead. So they did not want to participate at the debate. Port workers in Portugal strike, the same day of the conference, for a second week in a row. The reason is the proposal for reforming the port law in Portugal. There is a general fear that what is happening in Portugal is ongoing to happen all over Europe. The dialogue has not really started yet. We want social dialogue and we are engaged since 1995 in attempt, we know the strengths and the shorthcomings. We are here to engage in the dialogue if it is meaningful.
David Whitehead – (ESPO): There is hardly a surprise in the findings of the port labour report. It is unstastainable to employ 5 instead of 8 or 8 instead of the 5 needed. As the non-training is also unsastainable. The situation is different than what happens in other industries, so we need to de-mystify port labour.
Diego Teurelincx (Secretary General, FEPORT): The labour issue is closely related to state-aid/concession policy. FEPORT is asking for social dialogue, as labour is a production factor that should not be undermined. The target to be set in the context of this dialogue, and other EU activities, should be ‘proportional’; avoiding to address ‘what is not broken’. As 80% of the ports are efficient, we need to see what is the 20% that does not work. The DG –Employment is expected to give a green light to start a social dialogue. The later is a process and we need to conclude with a product. Europe needs to think of a sustainable social dialogue, and this needs time.
Anthony Tetard (IDCE): Concessions should come with clauses on conditions about workers and working conditions. We did not want to answer the labour questionnaire. We denounce the ‘scope’ of the study. This part of the attempts to reinforce antisosialist capitalism. The International Dockers Union will go for high level industrial action if the European Commission forces deregulation of port labour.
Day 2 Wednesday 26 September 2012
European Ports Policy Review Conference (Day 2): The PortEconomics diary Featured Written by THANOS A. PALLIS Print E-mail
PortEconomics followed the high-level Conference on European Ports Policy Review: “Unlocking the Growth Potential” (Brussels, 25-26 September 2012) and reports events, interventions, and all you want to know about the final second Conference day as unfolded:
Day-2: Wednesday 26 September 2012
Workshop on Port Performance and the Horizon 2020: PortEconomics co-directors Thanos Pallis and Theo Notteboom to offer their perspectives on the future of the European port policy, joined by Martijn van Dongen (Head of Business Development, APM Terminals) and Paul Kyprianou (Manager Research and External Relations Department, Grimaldi Lines).
Theo Notteboom (ITMMA-PortEconomics co-director) presented the PPRISM project, that has selected five types of feasible and relevant indicators to measure the overall port performance of the European port sector, and discusses the lessons and challenches of this first attempt towards a more comprehensive apporach of port performance: PPRISM (Port PeRformance Indicators: Selection and Measurement) was a two year project that identified a key list of sustainable, acceptable, relevant and feasible indicators to monitor the overall performance of the EU port system. The achievements of PPRISM can be summarised as follows: PPRISM delivers a shortlist of indicators that form the basis of a future European Port Observatory which will take the form of a Port Sector Performance Dashboard. These indicators contribute to provide insight into the overall performance of the European port system: Environmental indicators: EMS, carbon footprint, waste recycled, water consumption; Socio-economic indicators: employment in FTE; Supply chain performance: maritime connectivity, inland connectivity, quality of customs procedures; Institutional and governance indicators: ownership of Pas, economic objectives of Pas, ivolvement of PA in actions and initiatives that benefit the entire port community, direct provision of operational services’ Market trends and structure: maritime traffic, call size. The Dashboard will not publish or compare the performance of individual ports or terminals, but focus on the performance of the port system as a whole. PPRISM provides a final shortlist of 14 indicators that are relevant and both accepted by port stakeholders and detailed in terms of methods for data collection and analysis. Two main criteria: stakeholder acceptance and implementation feasibility. Only high-high to be implemented. PPRISM delivers essential data for the development of the first version of the Port Performance Dashboard in 2012 which was presented at the ESPO conference. 58 ports participated in a pilot. This represents a big step towards establishing a culture of measuring and reporting port performance in European ports: (a) Baseline & benchmark; transparency; Self improvement; License to operate; and compliance Thanos Pallis (University of the Aegean-co-director of PortEconomics) discussed the need to indetify reseach challenges and priorities and develop a Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) that will help enhancing the performance of the sector and meet the objectives of the European Commission’s Horizon 2020. In his intervantion, Thanos also detailes the directions and the principles that should govern this SRA.
Thanos Pallis’ intervention is available via PortEconomics: 2012-Strategic Research Agenda for ports-Pallis
Worskop on port performance & Horizon 2020:
Workshop on Concessions: A third member of the PortEconomics, associate member Patrick Verhoeven participates under his capacity as Secretary General of the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO), at a parallel workshop on consessions. Patrick Verhoeven tweets developments at Workshop on Concessions: “Land contracts (public domain and land lease) are not service concessions. Our conclusion of debate on concessions directive”
Workshop on Public and Private funding for EU ports
St. Ouaki (Head of Unit – European Commission (DG MOVE) opening remarks: There is a new framework for funding and includes the TEN-T revision and the new proposals for regulations, the TEN-T guidelines and the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) facility. There is a need for participation of the private sector in the European port industry, and the application of PPPs-concept is a mean towards this end.
F.H. Crevits (Flemish Minister for Mobility and Public Works): Reviewing the flemish experiences with investments in transport infrastructure, and the role of PPPs, advocates the need for a clear framework, and expects this to be created through the review of the European port policy. Stresses the importance of EU Funding for the European port sector, stating on the example of the funding within the TEN-T framework.
Luc T’Joen, (Principal Auditor – European Court of Auditors): The role of European Court of Auditors is important, there is an added value of the Institution for infrastructure in ports. The Court of Auditors proceeded to the evaluation for the period 2000-2006. The results indentified good projects but also problematic projects, projects that are not related with the port infrastructure. In total they identified 18, 1% of the projects to be effective. There are lessons to be learned by this results for (a) managing authorities of the ports b) for the European Commission. The bottom line: “continue investing in ports but spend the money well”.
G. Dunnett (Head of Air & Maritime Division-European Investment Bank): The new framework for the port industry results in a huge demand for money. There is a role to be played by the EIB, there is also need for sharing risks between the European Commission, the EIB and the Member States, and not least projects owners. There is also a need for submitting requests for sound projects.
Cl. Cheng (Managing Director Central Europe – Hutchison Ports Holdings): It is preferable rely more on private sector for infrastructure projects in ports, public investment should be made only in cases that this cannot be avoided. It is important to identify things to do to encourage private investments. There is a role for the European Commission: provide/guarantee the framework, continue soft law approach, concrete requirements and also the terms for public funding, TEN-T funding.
M.Jenne (Executive Director-BNP Paribas Fortiues): We follow closely the Experiences and opportunities for bank financing for ports and terminals. Ports represent a stable and growing market, this means ‘good investment’ cases, but we also need to be allinged with the trends in project finance.
St. Ouaki (Head of Unit – European Commission (DG MOVE) closing remarks: Public funding as well as funding from the private sector will be available, but strings will be attached. Significance and added value of the projects, conformity with the EU policy and targets, rentability of the money, will all be of importance. Priorisation of projects is also vital.
Workshop on Single Market for Port Services Richard Bird (UK Major Ports Group): There is always the danger of inappropriate rules, which might hamper investments and increase complexity. Improvements have happened due to work over the last 10 years. This is because of the work done collectively with partners. The survey conducted by the European Commission confirmed that users are overall satisfied with the services and the costs of the services. Most ports employe pilots directly as they are key members of the safety system.
Michael Jansen (European Boatmen Association): There is no need to think of changing mooring services at a European level. These services have proven to work, as users receive reasonable service, at reasonable price, so they should not be modified. The profession has adapted as maritime traffic grows, and the number of ships increases. The emphasis (of the EPP) should be on the minimisation of administrative burdens.
Alfons Guinier (ESCA): Towage is a commercial service, the survey was not representative ‘a bad moment’; there is no issue, though some problems exist. We will address that on a local base Pilotage: is essential service. There are some local issues (including language issues). Yet pilotage is not a public service. Safety is too important but should not be abused in order to intervene and regulate pilotage. Finally, the presence of modern technology means that pilotage from the shore could also take place; the question is why not allowing the use of modern technology to avoid bath weather and other difficult conditions. “Where do we want the Commission to go from here? Wish I know”. The Treaty- and the four principles – need to apply; the Commission is the guardian and they need to find the best way to do; I don’t know whether secondary legislation is required.
Patrick Verhoeven tweets: “ECSA wants Commission to act on port services, but not sure whether new legislation is needed for that”.
EMPA member from the audience observes: “Contradiction that for 15 years shipowners stance has not change, when transportation changed. Compulsory pilotage is a link to local conditions and this can be done through clear recommendations (already available by EMPA) and procedures, under certain categories”. Q&A: Strong resistance by the panel on an intervention on charges; transparency issues are far more welcomed. Patrick Verhoeven tweets: “Strong message from ports and service providers to Commission not to intervene on port charges”
Patrick Verhoeven tweets: “Eddy Bruyninckx CEO Port of Antwerp: port authorities must be active landlords organising their own rail transport”
Workshop on Single Market for Port Services H. Ruijters (Head of Unit – European Commission (DG MOVE): Stresses the omportance of the concept and the significance of the new framework that is based on the going TEN-T revision. The work is completed as far as the European Commission concerns regarding the two proposals for regulations; it is now up to the EP to approve P. Costa (Special Commissioner – Port of Venice): Success of the TEN-T concept will depend on the implementation. MoS: Intra-EU planning and implementation are important but European ports are already more or less connected with each other, dimension of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (connection of EU ports with North-African ports)
“Port Talk”: A debate with the users of the ports
F.S. de Brugiere (SGS): We are not clients of a port we are clients of a shipping line. Stevedoring etc are not our direct problem. The problem for us is the reliability of the port. The congestion is not so much physical. The main congestion is administrative, it is about customs. The latter might take weeks. Administrative burdens although we perform quality tests at the port that we are loading. The third issue are information systems. In some countries they are open to shippers, but in other member states the information system is close to the port. Shippers want to be part of this. Performance of the shipping line is important for life.
M. Van Orbroeck (Volvo): Congestion: fully agree with de Bruiere. Harmonisation, structure documents and procedures that we have to comply with. We have to work on the flexibility of concessions as port users. Our focus is on shor- medium-term and we use indermmediate companies. What is interesting is to develop contracts with the intermediary companies.
L. Airaghi (Group Ferrero): Quality is a must. I will continue on material infrastructure. The difference between South ports and North ports. We are using both, they have both their own problems. But we need to distinguish between ports that can develop or others that have geographical restrictions. Would recommend to cluster different ports that we are operating. Problems due to difficulties to ‘stay in the port’, cargoes need to move out. Congestion for us is to exceed two days from the programmed day of arrival. Synchronisation between customs and sanitary inspections.
W. Jan Beerthuis (Heineken): Short sea can be expensive due to port and related charges. The ship owners view-F. Peigne (CMA-CGM): We are pragmatic and simple. We look for the best possible services, and the lower charges. Our objective is to offer port-to-port services. So, punctuality, reliability and lower charges are important. Due to the cost of fuel every mile at sea and at shore is important for us. Limitations have to be minimised. When we have to light the vessel because of the limitation of draught in one one port then we have a problem even though this is good news for another port. For the customer this is a negative trend. The issue of formalities is quite important. We need to use website information. For the cargo we think that for Europe we do not need all the additional requirements that are present. We should harmonise them and then reduce the existing formalities. For the lowest cost we need to bear some charges. But they have to be transparent, relevant and negotiable. Towage: in some cases the conditions need to be adopted to the conditions present. Minimum time of port: we have to address the issue. It always lead to productivity improvements. A very good initiative is coming from the Journal of Commerce. They will publish data from several terminals and this is positive. Labour: The cargo will always find its destination. Port closure is always the benefit of the neighbouring port. But we have do discuss and negotiate. Environment: Ports needs to facilitate LNG supply, the new theme is how to fuel the ports, it is worth looing into the practicalities. Collection of residuals is a lot of costs for us and should be reduced. Patrick Verhoeven tweets on Port users debate: “administrative facilitation, seamless connections with barge and rail and dock labour principal issues”.
Conclusions: Connecting to Compete: Options for the EU Ports’ policy
Matthias Ruete (Director General – European Commission, DG MOVE):
•Logistics in Europe work well (World Bank database). We need however to secure that the European position does not slight down. We were by-passed by Singapore and Hong-Kong in recent years. Let’s ensure that we will reverse this phenomenon.
•It would be wrong to talk about a third port package. Would give wrong indications. A third port package is an illusion.
•This is about a port’s novel. Some of the chapters are already written. Examples are the Chapter of infrastructure that is already written, at least the Commission’s version.
Other issues include (a) concessions; (b) security; (c) health and safety at work; (e) Rules on temporary work (f) Blue belt project, resulting in administrative simplification; and (g) e-freight. •But there are crucial questions: What do we need to do? Do we need to do something? i.e. make the performance better by introducing transparency? Or do we need to separate different elements of it? How do we draw the line between public services and private services?
•The more challenging issue: Labour. A social dialogue is needed. How do we make sure that the protection of workers is ensured? How do we secure that the autonomy of social partners is ensured? We need to secure that skilled labour remains present in European ports. Patrick Verhoeven tweets and recaps: “DG Move Director-General Ruete wraps up conference: no ‘third ports package’ but a ‘ports novel’ of which many chapters exist”
Patrick Verhoeven provides the final European Ports Policy Review tweet: “Matthias Ruete outlines questions ahead: “transparency, services and dock labour. Specific consultation until 15 November”.
15 November 2012: A deadline for the conclusion of the new consultation round is set. The European Ports Policy Review Conference is over – the new round of ‘personalised’ consultation on the European Ports Policy Review begins.
PS. The day after: European Commission issues a reasoned opinion addressed to Spain for non-compliance with the EU Treaty of the regime organising the recruitment of port workers (dockers); PortEconomics associate member Patrick Verhoeven tweets: “Whatever outcome of#EUportspolicy, Treaty rules apply: EC finds Spanish labour pools in breach w freedom establishment”.