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News (8/03/2016)

Parliamentary vote gives new impetus to a competitive port sector in Europe

The European Parliament has today greenlighted the Ports Regulation , an important step to make European ports more competitive and increase financial transparency. This Regulation will deliver on the Commission's agenda for investment, growth and jobs and is therefore listed in the 2016 Commission Work Programme as a priority pending proposal, meriting speedy adoption by the co-legislators.

Welcoming today's progress, EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said, "Ports are engines for growth. A competitive port sector is critical to the well-functioning of the internal market, and our seaports are gateways from the trans-European network to the rest of the world. Once adopted, the Regulation will facilitate private investment in ports and encourage more efficient public investments and port services".

Trilogues are now to start in view of an inter-institutional agreement.

In more detail, the proposed Regulation is composed of three parts:

  • a transparent and easy access to the market of port services
  • financial transparency for port authorities through their accounts in order to ensure a transparent and rational use of public funds,
  • mechanisms to handle disputes and consultations between port stakeholders.

After the adoption of the General Approach by the Council in 2014, the TRAN Committee of the European Parliament adopted its report on 25 January 2016. Following yesterday's debate in the plenary, the European Parliament has given a mandate to the rapporteur Knut Fleckenstein and his colleagues to start trilogues with the Council in view of reaching an agreement in first reading.

The Commission also published yesterday the first draft of a regulation modifying the General Block Exemption Regulation to widen its scope and include non-problematic investment aid to ports. The public and stakeholders are now invited to comment on the Commission's first draft proposals for criteria that identify the types of public investments into ports, which would be exempted from prior Commission scrutiny under EU state aid rules.