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Friday, October 19, 2018

EUROPEAN COMMISSION’S PROPOSAL FOR DEREGULATION OF THE RIGHT TO PROVIDE PORT SERVICES

After several years of difficult discussions, with opposition to deregulation being expressed by several EU member states and regional authorities as well as private companies and associations involved in the port business, the European Commission earlier this year tabled a proposal for deregulation of the right to provide port services in European ports.  The proposal, which intends to intensify cross-national coordination of  European transport policies with the aim of reducing congestion and the environmental strains imposed on society by road transport, outlines a policy whereby both technical nautical services as well as cargo handling services will be subject to deregulation.  The Commission, however, has proposed several rules and procedures designed to ensure safety and the quality of services.

The massive opposition which was apparent in the earlier stages of this  process is surfacing again now that the proposal has come to the so-called  "first reading" in the European Parliament. The issue was discussed at the European Parliament Transport Committee on 10 September, but voting was postponed until 10 October.  Ahead of the discussion more than 270 amendments to the Commission text had been proposed by members of the European Parliament (MEPs).

Obviously discussions could not cover in detail all these amendments, and the Rapporteur (Committee spokesman) suggested that he look into some of the main proposals such as the exclusion of pilotage from the Directive. He maintained his view that cargo handling should be excluded and that the Directive should have provisions on competition between ports, an issue which the Commission has announced as the main topic for a separate proposal. At the same time, however, MEP Jarzembowski also stressed that self handling and the right of service providers to employ personnel of their own choice should be recognised as basic rights.

Some MEPs insisted that all services should be kept in the directive and that excluding some of them (such as pilotage) would change the scope and the contents of the Directive radically. It is clear from the discussions that there is still a long way to go before agreement can be reached on this Commission proposal.  This is also illustrated by the fact that the Council (EU Member States) have so far not even put the proposal on their agenda.

For INTERTANKO the main topic within this issue is pilotage. INTERTANKO supports the inclusion of pilotage in the services which could be opened up to competition -  but only subject to strict quality standards and criteria.  INTERTANKO is in contact with the Parliament and the other EU institutions concerning this particular matter

Contact: Kristian R. Fuglesang kristian.fuglesang@intertanko.com