A new Commission proposal aims to make better and more efficient use of Europe’s mid-sized ports. Currently, over 20% of total imports come in to the continent through the three largest ports- Rotterdam, Hamburg, and Antwerp. These ports tend to overtake the import industry- for perspective, note that the fourth largest port, Marseille, handles less than a quarter of the cargo that goes through the top three.

The proposal would apply to 319 of 1200 currently functioning ports, typically ones that are underused. This will, in turn, reduce maritime traffic and overcrowding in the more popular ports. The proposal would also set rules to avoid price abuses by industry operators who own exclusive access to the ports. Furthermore, port-users advisory committees would be created, increasing transparency.

This proposal is significant not only in it’s possibilities but also because it is the first time the Commission has issued sector-specific legislation in this area. Past laws concerning port use have been covered by general EU law and competition rules. However, the Commission predicts that adequate usage of these ports could save the European economies 10 billion Euro by the year 2030. So, the proposal aims to not only address environmental concerns of high-traffic port areas, but also bolstering the economies of mid-sized port communities. This draws on the “key action on maritime transport” that was part of the Single Market Act II which was adopted in late 2012. It includes eight Commission actions and a focused proposal to Parliament and to the Council.


Source: European Commission

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