On 25 January the Transport Committee of the European Parliament adopted its report on the ports’ Regulation. Dating back to 2013, the Commission’s proposal went through a laborious process before finally being adopted by the TRAN Committee, the first step in the legislative process.
Rapporteur Knut Fleckenstein and his team made a big effort to turn the 712 amendments into a set of 29 compromise amendments, which were eventually adopted with a large majority. In an unexpected turn of events the rapporteur did not gather the necessary number of votes to enter into discussions with the Member States and the Commission, hence a plenary vote is expected to give this mandate.
Good progress was made compared to earlier versions of the report on ensuring that financial transparency prevails when public money is involved in the operation of ports and port services, that users are consulted and that the port management can act autonomously but under an independent supervision mechanism.
Despite the headway made, European shipowners deem this most recent development to be a missed opportunity to adopt an inclusive approach on market access to port services.
Commenting on the outcome of the vote, Patrick Verhoeven, ECSA Secretary General, said: “Shipowners still face restrictive practices and legal obstacles on market access to port services and we fear this text will not provide all the necessary tools to address these. This is particularly important for short sea shipping operators, who make frequent port calls and for whom financial and time losses add disproportionately to the total cost of transportation – and this to the benefit of other modes of transport, more polluting and congesting the mainland.”
“We regret that disproportional restrictions on new market entrants are proposed through the addition of rules on the transfer of undertakings. This goes very much against the idea of rendering the market more flexible and accessible for new entrants.”
”We count on the Member States and the European Commission to ensure some of our concerns are better addressed, overall we hope for a speedy procedure in trilogue” he concluded.