EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT PLENARY DEBATES PORT CONGESTION AND SURGE IN FREIGHT RATES
At the Plenary session of the European Parliament a debate was held on the disruptions in the maritime supply chain, congestion in ports and increased transport costs affecting the businesses in the EU. Commissioner Helena Dalli represented the European Commission on behalf of Commissioner for Transport Valean. Ms Dalli gave the Commission’s perspective on the current situation, referring to the increase in demand in container shipping since July 2020, companies restocking their inventory which further increased demand and the lower productivity of ports as a result of strict Covid protocols. As a result, freight rates soared to historical levels, and congestion in ports is still rising.
The Commission noted that regulatory measures and market intervention cannot properly solve the current disruption, congestion problems and ultimately the imbalance between supply and demand. Ms Dalli reassured that Commission services are keeping regular contacts with all actors of the supply chain and relevant authorities to analyse the situation and monitor market developments. She called on all actors of the supply chain to collaborate to find solutions, notably by increasing the availability and smart use of data and information, in order to improve port call efficiency and the resilience of supply chains.
MEPs overall acknowledged the potential threats of these disruptions, affecting transport and logistics operators, shippers and end-customers. The steep increase in freight rates and shortages of specific goods threaten economic recovery and undermine European competitiveness. Most MEPs considered that more investments and financial support in transport infrastructure, both on shore and land side would support in making supply chains more resilient.
MEP Claudia Monteiro de Aguiar (EPP, Portugal) and Ciaran Cuffe (Greens/EFA, Ireland) questioned the concentration of the shipping market leading to competition concerns and called on the Commission to take actions. Mr Cuffe also called on shipping companies to invest their record-high profits into cleaner technologies to help decarbonise the sector.