ECSA: Progress on EU Port Policies Long Overdue
The text of the European Council’s proposal to liberalize market access to port services is indicative of Member States’ lack of ambition with regard to their ports, according to European Community Shipowners’ Association (ECSA).
Following a decision to suspend the legislative procedure by Rapporteur Knut Fleckenstein in March this year, the Italian Presidency of the Council has been pushing for a Council agreement.
The association called on EU decision-makers to maintain “some degree of meaningfulness in the Regulation.”
” Not only have Member States endorsed the exclusion of cargo-handling and passenger services from the market access chapter, they have also added the possibility for Member States to also exclude pilotage, without ensuring a proper supervision and the full transparency of pilotage charges,” ECSA said in a release.
As explained by ECSA, “this severely limits the scope of the Regulation while increasing the heterogeneity in the legal framework applicable to EU ports.
What is more, provisions pertaining to the consultation of port users as well as a supervision mechanism to ensure the proper implementation of EU rules have been removed.”
Patrick Verhoeven, ECSA Secretary-General noted that regardless of the outcome of the current legislative process, “the European Commission should still encourage port development and foster efficiency. Progress on many policy areas, such as on pilotage exemption certificates, is long overdue, while the principles of free market access and transparency are not uniformly applied in all EU ports.”
Verhoeven believes that it is time to decouple the EU’s ports policy from the format of broad regulatory packages covering a variety of issues and services “by supplementing them with a more surgical approach for specific policy areas” in addition to honing in on individual port cases where EU rules are not properly applied.
The proposal for increased market access to European ports and higher degree of transparency in the ports was suspended in the European Parliament as the draft text was severely watered down from its original version.