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Ports

Europe's ports are vital gateways, linking its transport corridors to the rest of the world. 74% of goods entering or leaving Europe go by sea, and Europe boasts some of the finest port facilities in the world. Ports also play a crucial role both in the exchange of goods within the internal market and in linking peripheral and island areas with the mainland. But ports are not only great for moving goods around, they also generate employment; 1.5 million workers are employed in European ports, with the same amount again employed indirectly across the 22 EU maritime Member States.

Nevertheless the sector is facing major challenges in terms of hinterland congestion, traffic growth and investment. The EU needs good performing ports across all maritime regions. Bottlenecks in ports and their hinterland due to the lack of high quality infrastructure or low performing port services result in congestion and extra costs for shippers, transport operators and consumers.

The new guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network (TEN-T) have identified 329 key seaports pdf - 377 KB [377 KB] along Europe’s coastline that will become part of a unified network boosting growth and competitiveness in Europe's Single Market. The Connecting Europe Facility financial instrument will provide up to € 26 billion to support transport infrastructures, including ports and connections of port with the hinterland, for the period 2014-2020.

The Commission adopted on 23 May 2013 an initiative aimed at improving port operations and onward transport connections at these 329 key seaports. This initiative proposes an integrated strategy combining legislative measures and non-legislative measures.

Slideshow presentation: European ports, an engine for growth pdf - 916 KB [916 KB]
  1. The legislative measures take the form of a Regulation to be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers. The proposed Regulation will introduce common rules on the transparency of public funding and the market access of port services. The rules on the market access of ports services will however not apply to cargo handling. This Regulation will protect port operators against legal uncertainties and unfair competition and help attract investors. The adoption of the Regulation will help provide a better allocation of scarce public funding and an effective and fair application of the State aid rules in ports. It was estimated that this Regulation could save the European economy up to €10 billion by 2030 and help develop new short sea links.
  2. This proposed Regulation complements the modernization of the state aid rules by the Directorate General for Competition through the development of the case law (see list of decisions relevant to ports pdf - 231 KB [231 KB] ). The Commission is considering further clarification of the state aid rules applicable to port when the regulation will be adopted, notably by including certain port investments in the Block Exemption Regulation.
  3. As other non-legislative measures, the Commission promotes and supports the social dialogue between port workers and their employees to address issues such as health and safety at work, training and qualifications. An EU social dialogue committee has been established and met for the first time on 19 June 2013.
  4. The Commission will integrate ports in the future corridor work plans foreseen by article 46 of the TEN-T guidelines (Regulation 1315/2013) and will provide targeted grants and other forms of financial supports to port infrastructure projects by using the Connecting Europe Facility .
  5. The Commission is undertaking a series of measures to simplify procedures in ports, in particular by avoiding unnecessary controls by customs for the movement of goods within the internal market ("Blue Belt "). The main instrument to assess the EU status of goods will be a harmonized cargo manifest to be introduced in June 2015.
  6. Finally the Commission supports initiatives to raise the environmental profile of ports by providing guidelines and promote the exchange of good practices and will define a port research and innovation agenda which can be used in the Horizon 2020 programme to encourage innovation in ports.

BROCHURE - Ports 2030 Gateways for the trans-European transport network pdf - 7 MB [7 MB]

Related documents

Legislation

Communication from the Commission - Ports: an engine for growth - COM(2013)295 final

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a framework on market access to port services and financial transparency of ports - COM(2013)296 final

Impact Assessment accompanying the Regulation and Communication - SWD(2013)181 final

Summary of Impact Assessment  - SWD(2013)182 final

Communication from the Commission on European Ports Policy [COM(2007)616]

 

Summaries of legislation

Port infrastructure: Green Paper

Quality services in sea ports

Facilities for ship-generated waste and cargo residues

Enhancing port security

The implementation of the Birds and Habitat Directives in estuaries and coastal zones with particular attention to port development and dredging

Guidelines pdf - 4 MB [4 MB]

Commission working document [SEC(2011)0319] pdf - 55 KB [55 KB]

Studies

First Report of the Portopia Project - Deliverable 1.1 - Trans-shipment

Study aimed at supporting an impact assessment on: "Measures to enhance the efficiency and quality of port services in the EU"

Portius Legal Study 2013 - Port Labour Regimes in the EU Member States: Fact Finding Exercise. Open for comments until July 2013.

Sea ports: Public financing and charging practices of seaports in the EU (2006)

Press room

Bluebelt: as part of the action plan on ports, the Commission eases customs facilities for ships. Brussels, 8 July 2013

Transport: Commission refers Spain to court over rules for the recruitment of port workers, Brussels, 20 June 2013

European ports: Europe-wide social dialogue between port workers and employers, Brussels, 19 June 2013

Commission proposes upgrade for 300 key seaports - Brussels, 23 May 2013 - Press Release

Europe's seaports 2030: challenges ahead - Brussels, 23 May 2013 - Memo

Speech of VK Kallas "Europe's ports: a vital gateway to the rest of the world" - Brussels, 23 May 2013

Speech of VP Kallas "Europe's ports face wind of change" - Conference on European Ports Policy, Brussels, 25 September 2012

Speech of VP Kallas "Steering a course for the future: Europe's ports in the 21st century", 11 May 2012

Memo "Importance of ports for economic recovery and jobs", 11 May 2012

 European Commission to bring forward new package of measures for ports in 2013 [IP/11/1009]

Memo: Visit of VP Siim Kallas to the Port of Rotterdam (8/09/2011) pdf - 17 KB [17 KB]

Participation of Vice-president Jacques Barrot in the ESPO 2007 conference (European Sea Port Organisation), Algeciras [SPEECH/07/356, 01/06/2007] български (bg)czech (cs)dansk (da)Deutsch (de)eesti (et)ελληνικά (el)español (es)Français (fr)Gaeilge (ga)italiano (it)latviešu (lv)lietuvių (lt)magyar (hu)Malti (mt)Nederlands (nl)polski (pl)português (pt)română (ro)slovenčina (sk)slovenščina (sl)suomi (fi)svenska (sv)

Latest ports statistics

Annual Statistics Explained article on Maritime ports freight and passengers statistics with figures for 2012

Eurostat News Release (update of annual statistics)

Update of the Statistics Explained article Maritime transport of goods - quarterly data (figures for 2013 Q2 and first estimate for 2013 Q3)