05 February 2016

CLECAT responds to TRAN vote on Port Services Report

The European Parliament Transport Committee adopted, on 25 January, the report by Knut Fleckenstein MEP on the proposed Ports Services Regulation. The report as adopted represents a high degree of compromise between MEPs, which has allowed work on the file to advance, and the rapporteur’s work to engineer this compromise is very much appreciated.

CLECAT welcomes the simplification of the proposal by the compromise amendments adopted, including the granting of freedom for ports to organise services as they wish. This would allow those ports which wish to open up market access to port services to do so, without imposing a single model on Europe’s ports. The strong provisions on financial transparency and consultation of port users in the report are especially welcome, in ensuring that port users are adequately informed with regard to the setting of port charges.

However, it is regrettable that the report maintains an exemption for cargo handling. It is contradictory to allow ports the freedom to organise port services as they desire while at the same time excluding certain services from this freedom. CLECAT is also concerned that the report’s restrictions on the organisation of labour in port services go against the rationale of granting the freedom of organisation. The introduction of restrictions to be imposed in case of transfers of undertakings is contradictory, a block on new entrants to the market and on the freedom to organise port services.

It is unfortunate that a majority could not be obtained for a mandate to negotiate with the Council. We urge MEPs to grant this mandate in a plenary vote as soon as possible, so that trilogue negotiations may begin in the near future and an agreement reached. There has been good progress lately on this file and it is important to maintain this momentum by proceeding to negotiations as rapidly as possible. The trilogue negotiations will be an opportunity to maintain the strong compromises achieved by MEPs and to revisit the restrictions on free organisation of port services.

CLECAT Director General Nicolette van der Jagt said “Today’s vote represents another step towards a meaningful and practical Port Services Regulation. The shift towards freedom to organise services is a good compromise which allows flexibility in the marketplace, and the provisions on financial transparency and user consultation are very welcome. However, the report also places restrictions on this freedom to organise, through exemptions for services including cargo handling, and labour requirements, which contradict the spirit of freedom of organisation. We encourage the parties at the eventual trilogue negotiations to reconsider these barriers to organisation.”