Tomorrow, Members of the European Parliament will be voting on the EU Ports Regulation and, more specifically, on rapporteur Knut Fleckenstein’s report, which was previously adopted by the Transport (TRAN) Committee.
Overall, European shipowners are disappointed with the TRAN text, which was supposed to address a longstanding request from port users to ensure that the freedom to provide services, one of the cornerstones of the Treaty of the European Union, also applies to ports. Shipowners are puzzled by the fact that the chapter on the ‘organisation of ports’ still remains an empty box, with some of the most essential port services having been excluded.
Patrick Verhoeven, ECSA Secretary General, said: “I can only emphasise what we have been stating for many years: shipowners still face restrictive practices and legal obstacles in many port service markets. This has repercussions on various elements such as viability and efficiency of short sea shipping. Whilst the initial proposal of the Commission lacked in ambition, the text has now been weakened further and is even introducing additional restrictions.”
The proposal also covers financial transparency and foresees mechanisms for consultation of users and stakeholders. “Despite the fact that these elements are certainly a step in the right direction, the text that is on the table for the vote tomorrow remains unsatisfactory and leaves a lot to be desired. We therefore urge co-legislators to heed our call and improve it after the vote and during the upcoming trilogue negotiations”, concluded Patrick Verhoeven.