European shipowners’ body ECSA has appealed to the European Parliament to stiffen up the European Commission’s proposed EU port services regulation, notably by re-including proposals to open up cargo-handling and passenger services to competition.
The commission has dropped these two service categories from its latest proposed regulation – its third attempt to pass legislation on port services and financial procedures in recent years. It is thought to have wanted to avoid threatened conflict with port workers’ unions but ECSA argues that the two categories should be included anyway.
“Cargo-handling and passenger services, absent from the original proposal, are the most significant part of port call costs,” it said. “Hence, they should be included in and covered by an EU ports regulation.”
In a position paper issued as the proposed regulation goes to the parliament’s transport committee, ECSA also warns MEPs against attempting to take pilotage, towage, and mooring out of the scope of the legislation.
They should not be excluded for safety or public service reasons, which the bill already provided for, it said.
ECSA said that it was also in favour of the introduction of financial transparency rules in EU ports, which it said should be the first step to rules on state aid in the port sector.
“We understand the commission’s wariness and caution,” said ECSA secretary general Patrick Verhoeven, “but remain convinced that an EU ports reform package should be more ambitious than the current proposal, which only addresses some of the real problems faced by port users in EU ports.”
ECSA told IHS Maritime that the parliament’s transport committee could vote on the proposed regulation in mid-September after having received and discussed a report on it from rapporteur Knut Fleckenstein during the summer.
Parliament could then vote on it in plenary session before the end of this year, opening the way to discussions with the European Council on a final text and the possibility of final approval before the end of next year.