Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas (photo) announced today the publication of a regulation proposal on market access to port services and financial transparency, as well as a new communication on ports policy.
ESPO welcomes the fact that both initiatives value the important role that seaports play for the European economy. This complements the Commission’s earlier initiative to give ports a central position in the Trans-European Transport Networks. ESPO is however concerned about the potential implications the regulation proposal may have on the autonomy of port authorities.
“We appreciate that the Commission intends to recognise the central role of port authorities and we support the provisions of the regulation that aim to create greater financial transparency”, said ESPO Secretary General Patrick Verhoeven, “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.”
The regulation proposal excludes cargo handling and passenger services from market access rules. ESPO believes that an inclusive, non-legislative approach, covering all port services, would have been more balanced and proportional in this respect.
On 29 May, the General Assembly of ESPO will adopt a formal position, prior to the organisation’s annual conference in Varna, where the new proposals will be discussed for the first time with industry stakeholders. In the weeks following the conference, ESPO intends to further analyse the regulation proposal, taking into account the impact on the diversity of its membership. “We will then formulate a number of concrete recommendations for the forthcoming debate in Parliament and Council. We also look forward to exchanging views with other European stakeholder organisations, to see where we might have points in common”, concluded Patrick Verhoeven.