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EU one step closer to unleash full potential of seaports

Date: 21/07/2016

The European Commission welcomes the landmark agreement reached today by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU on a common European framework for seaports. The objective of the Ports Regulation is to strengthen the European port sector by attracting new investments and enhancing the efficiency of port operations for the benefit of Europe's trade, economy and global positioning. Seaports are Europe's gateway and their competitiveness is critical for the internal market. 75% of extra-EU goods and 37% of the intra-EU freight traffic are shipped through European ports. The Ports Regulation therefore will deliver on the key priorities of President Jean-Claude Juncker.

EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said, "Seaports are the entry nodes of the internal market, and a key factor of Europe's connectivity and trade. A strong and competitive port sector is therefore essential to our economy. The agreement we reached today will deliver better port services and create a smarter regulatory environment. This will help attract well-needed investments and guarantee that European ports can make the most of the opportunities under the Commission's Investment Plan."

The Ports Regulation will:

Guarantee financial transparency and an optimal use of resources. New rules will guarantee a greater transparency regarding the use of public funding and ports charges for all activities (such as dredging, pilotage). This will give investors more confidence, ensure fair competition between ports and stimulate investments. More investments in ports will result in more jobs and more wealth. The port sector currently employs 469,000 people directly and helps sustain 3 million jobs.

Ensure high-quality services at European ports. New requirements will improve the professional qualifications of personnel, and makes the access to the market of port services (such as towage and mooring) easier and more transparent. Port users will benefit from more choice at a better price.

Improve the governance of European ports. Ports will have more autonomy, for example to define their infrastructure charges. Port users and stakeholders will nevertheless be consulted on important decisions impacting the port activities. Finally mechanisms to handle disputes and complaints should be set up, so as to avoid costly litigation procedures.

Next steps

Today's agreement must now be formally endorsed and adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU. This is expected to be done by the end of 2016.

Background

The Ports Regulation was put forward by the European Commission in May 2013, as part of a broader strategy to strengthen the port sector. The 2016 Commission Work Programme   lists the Port Regulation as a priority pending proposal, meriting speedy adoption by the co-legislators.

 
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