Thursday, 19 December 2013 15:53 This month, ESPO is happy to present you the port of Barcelona, which is the port of the current ESPO Chairman Santiago Garcia-Milà.
Can you present us the port of Barcelona?
Barcelona is Spain’s main port for international traffic, with more than 100 regular shipping lines connecting the port with 300 ports in the five continents. It is specialised in general cargo and high added value cargo such as consumer goods, electronics products and vehicles. Furthermore, the port generates 32, 000 jobs and channels 71% of Catalonia’s external maritime trade and 21% of the national total. It is also Spain’s leading port in turnover and goods value.
The port of Barcelona is a crucial transport and services infrastructure in the Euro-Mediterranean area. The port is the logistics gateway that links markets as far as the Far East and Latin America and its area of influence includes the Iberian Peninsula and the south and centre of Europe and North Africa.
European ports play a key role as core nodes of the new TEN-T network and the multimodal corridors. Has the port of Barcelona been benefitting from TEN-T funds so far? What does the port expect from the new policy?
So far the port of Barcelona has been involved, as leader or partner, in 6 different TEN-T projects of which two of them are rail transport projects: the construction of the Muelle Prat rail terminal, already in place, and the adaptation of the port of Barcelona railway network to standard gauge, which has been concluded in 2013. Motorways of the Sea has also a high relevance in other projects submitted: the port of Barcelona has participated in the Reinforcement of Short Sea Shipping in the port of Barcelona through the development of a maritime station; B2mos (Business to motorways of the sea) and Mos4Mos (Monitoring and Operation Services for the Motorways of the Sea) projects.
In 2013, the port of Barcelona leaded the Clyma (Development of the Connection Lyon-Madrid on the Mediterranean Corridor) project. This Action focuses on freight transport connecting Lyon and Madrid to enable a coordinated implementation of the network. It includes studies on the organization and optimal implementation of the TEN-T network, taking into account long term perspectives, environmental aspects and associated needs, as well as studies that promote environmental sustainability, resource efficiency and low –carbon transport within an integrated transport concept.
For future TEN-T calls, the port of Barcelona expects to submit projects that will have as main objective the improvement of its land and, in particular, rail connections and the development of Motorways of the Sea. We will also focus our activities on the development of the port’s interoperability and intermodality as well as on customs aspects.
Regarding the new policy, we believe it will become a major contribution to achieve a level playing field and rebalance the current global cargo flows in order to meet EU’s environmental objectives. Therefore, it will allow a more sustainable and balanced European logistics system. Specifically, the European Commission’s designation of the Mediterranean Corridor as a priority project in the core Trans-European Transport Network will have a decisive impact on the ability of the port of Barcelona to become a European and Mediterranean logistics platform for international distributors and logistics operators and it will improve the capability of Spanish exporters to deliver the products to European markets.
What are the big challenges for your port? Can Brussels/ EU policy contribute in addressing these challenges?
Considering that logistics represent an increasing part of the global cost of products, we are aware that, as a port, we have a key role in promoting competitiveness for our customers. Our aim is to offer the most competitive and responsive service, so that our clients can efficiently place their products in the foreign markets. The main challenge we face to achieve this goal is the improvement of our connectivity to our hinterland and, specifically, to the rest of the Iberian Peninsula, France and Central Europe.
The fact that the Mediterranean Corridor is part of the core network that will be established by 2030 is essential for achieving the port of Barcelona’s strategic objectives of modal split and sustainable development. It is a crucial element for consolidating Barcelona and its surroundings into a powerful Euro-Mediterranean logistics platform from which major distributors, international and logistics operators and multinational companies will be able to distribute their products to European and Mediterranean markets.
The Parliament is currently discussing the proposal for a port regulation. What is or can be the main added value of this proposal, what is the most problematic issue?
The port of Barcelona welcomes this new proposal. Although the Regulation may be considered as a missed opportunity, we are confident that it will help to move towards a level playing field for European ports.
European ports differ in many aspects and this makes it very difficult to develop a set of rules that goes further than guiding principles. The most problematic issues of this Regulation are the independent supervisory body, the relationship with port costumers, the freedom to provide services, the equal market access rules and the procedures and setting of port infrastructure charges. The Regulation will have a great impact in the port of Barcelona autonomy in setting infrastructure charging. Currently, the port has a tight charges scheme as it is part of a national regulatory body. In particular, one of the challenges that the new Regulation plans to face is the weak autonomy of ports to define infrastructure charges.
The port of Barcelona is both an important freight and cruise port. These seem two different worlds. How do you please both sectors?
Diversification is one of the main assets of the port of Barcelona. In fact, we consider the port not just consisting of two ports (freight and cruise port), but five in one: a city-port (Port Vell), a commercial or freight port, an energy port, a cruise port and a logistics port. The coexistence of freight and cruise interests is perfectly smooth, partly due to the neat distribution of activities throughout the port’s premises.
On the one hand, cruise infrastructures are located in the Adossat and Barcelona wharfs, which are very close to the city centre and, due to their location and characteristics, are not fit for freight handling. On the other hand, the expansion of the commercial port, which was completed during the last decade, has taken place in the part of the port far away from the city. It doubled the port’s surface from 600 to 1200 hectares. This enlargement has provided enough space and loading capacity for the upcoming decades.
In terms of cruise passengers and call volumes, the port of Barcelona is the leading port in Europe and the Mediterranean and the fourth homeport in the world. In 2013, Barcelona expects the arrival of 2.6 million cruise passengers, and this will almost reach the record figure achieved in 2011.
Being the top Spanish port in terms of goods value, the port of Barcelona has attracted investments worth 4 000 million Euros from 2000 to 2014, both from the public and the private sectors. However, apart from the employment and wealth that the freight port generates, the cruise industry has also a huge economic impact on the city of Barcelona.
According to the estimates of Turisme de Barcelona, each turnaround cruise passenger spends an average of 114 Euros per day and 61 Euros in the case of passengers in transit. Similarly, crew members of vessels arriving in Barcelona also contribute to the economy by spending an average of 30 Euros per day. On the basis of these estimates, the economic impact of cruise traffic on the city of Barcelona in 2012 (excluding the port activity itself: terminals, suppliers, etc., ) was estimated at 232 million Euros.
What kind of cooperation do you have with non-EU neighbouring ports? Are they competitors? What are your challenges?
Our relationship with North-African ports is excellent. In fact, according to the last container cargo figures, Algeria is our second commercial partner (only preceded by China) and Morocco stands in the fourth position on the ranking. We also have a very competitive offer of short sea shipping services with North Africa, especially with Tangier. There are other emergent economies, such as Turkey, which in 2013 has grown by 12% in cargo exchanges with the port of Barcelona.
In the last years we have organised different commercial missions to countries like Morocco, Algeria, Tunis and Turkey to boost the port’s presence on the main Mediterranean markets. These initiatives have led to bilateral contacts with companies, institutions and transport leaders. We have also signed collaboration agreements with their main ports in order to harmonise documental procedures associated to cargo flows and to share know-how related to common issues, such as short sea shipping, port-city integration, technological platforms and quality strategy.
Our main challenge for the future in this sector is to help in facilitating administrative procedures, customs and legal procedures associated with trade exchanges with neighbouring countries, in particular North Africa.