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Tuesday, October 16, 2018


Discussions on a European policy for ports are continuing, based on a draft Directive. Self-handling is the most controversial current issue.

The European Commission issued on 13 February 2001 a Communication to the European Parliament and the Council entitled ‘Reinforcing Quality Services in Sea Ports: A Key for European Transport’. [COM 2001 35  2001/0047 (COD)]. The paper is available at:

The main thrust of the paper is to ensure competition among service providers in ports. As a second step the Commission plans to put forward legislation (probably in the form of “state aid guidelines”) in order to improve competition between ports.

INTERTANKO took an active part in the early stages of this work, seeing the case handlers in the Commission before the initial Green (consultation) paper was issued [COM(1997) 678 10 Dec. 1997], and has thereafter followed it through the Working Group on Ports of the European Communities Shipowners Associations (ECSA), and with a meeting with DG Tren on 13 March 2001.

We applaud the main objective of the Draft Directive, but have suggested that Port Agents should be included in the list of service providers that should be subjected to the planned liberalisation regime.

INERTANKO can fully endorse ECSA’s position that the governing principles should be:

“open markets, free and fair competition between and within ports, no imposed services, fair and transparent pricing and the abolition of outmoded labour practices.”

ECSA believes that it is essential that these principles, which have received support from the maritime industries, are respected in the practical application of the Directive. Further a weakening of the basic principles would be counterproductive to the ongoing process of increasing the efficiency and competitiveness of maritime transport in the overall supply chain.

While the European Parliament is pressing ahead with relatively high speed on this item, the Council (EU Member States) has not yet started to deal with the issue at all. It will now be up to the incoming Belgian presidency to decide whether it will give the port policy issues priority.

The European Parliament is mainly driving the issue due to strong pressure from the appointed rapporteur Mr. Jarzembowski. MEP Jarzembowski, who is elected from Hamburg, has taken a position which would be favourable to the interests of Hamburg and Bremen ports. Against this background he is working hard to redirect the main focus of the proposal from competition between service providers in ports, to a focus on competition between ports. At the same time he proposes to scale down the scope of the initial directive by leaving out cargo handling. This can partly be read from the amendments he tabled ahead of the EP Transport committee discussion which took place on 20 June. These suggestions have - not surprisingly - not been met with much enthusiasm from either ECSA or from the Commission who both regard this as a core element of the initial Commission proposal. Judging from the EP debate on 20 June it can certainly not be ruled out that Jarzembowski will receive all the support he needs to get his amendments through.

The European Parliament’s time table is :

  • 20 June:  first discussion in the European Parliament Committee on Transport
  • 28 August:  amendments from other MEPs (than the rapporteur)
  • 11/12 September: voting in the Committee
  • October (probably): Voting in Plenary

Further information is available from Kristian Fuglesang on e-mail