The EU ports reform is losing its
In March, MEP Knut Fleckenstein, the rapporteur on the European Commissionís
proposal for a Regulation on Market access to port services and financial
transparency of ports announced that the legislative procedure for this
particular file would be suspended until the new European Parliament would be in
place following the European election of May.
Since then, EU Member States have been discussing the Commissionís proposal for
a Port Regulation in the Council of Ministers. The Italian Presidency of the
Council aims at striking a deal with the European Parliament at first reading
and discussions are moving fast in that direction.
Unfortunately, in order to achieve this, the text currently under consideration
by the Council is slowly inching towards the initial position of the Parliament,
which was itself a watered down version of the Commissionís proposal. Member
States are contemplating excluding cargo handling and passenger services from
the Regulation while the exclusion of pilotage remains uncertain. Council
deliberations are also focusing on whether the Regulation should only apply to
major EU ports (TEN-T core network ports). In light of these developments, the
scope of the Regulation could be drastically reduced, turning the EU ports
reform into little more than an empty shell.
ďIt is extremely disheartening to see EU co-legislators gradually empty the
already weak Commission proposal of any substance for the port user community.
The opportunity for a meaningful reform of EU ports is slipping through our
fingers and at this stage the EU shipping industryís interest in supporting this
proposal is indeed very limitedĒ commented Patrick Verhoeven, ECSA
In addition to reducing the scope, EU Member States are also contemplating a
weaker consultation procedure of port users for all matters related to port
charging policy, connections with hinterland, efficiency of the administrative
procedures and environmental issues.
What is more, Member States are further diluting the Commissionís initial
proposal by backtracking on the issue of the need for an independent authority
that would monitor and supervise the correct application of the Regulation.
ďEuropean shipowners urge Member States to reconsider their approach and refocus
on the raison díêtre of this legislative procedure, i.e., delivering a reform
that will improve the efficiency and increase the transparency of EU portsĒ he