05 May 2015

CLECAT welcomes pragmatic discussions on Ports Regulation

On 5 May, the European Parliament Transport Committee held an exchange of views on the proposed Ports Regulation, having suspended work on the proposal due to the elections of May 2014.

The rapporteur, Knut Fleckenstein MEP, put forward a pragmatic position on the regulation, including a commitment to financial transparency in the setting of port charges and the assurance of independent supervision and support for port users’ rights, as well as ensuring clarity over state aid for port infrastructure.

It was encouraging to see many MEPs supporting measures on financial transparency, independent supervision and protection of port users’ rights. CLECAT also welcomes the desire among many MEPs to ensure legal clarity in order to avoid lengthy court disputes over the meaning of the regulation.

However, CLECAT is concerned at the potential for the draft regulation’s market access chapter to be removed or weakened to a point where it is no longer relevant. A comprehensive, balanced market access chapter, covering the broad range of port services, is essential to a meaningful ports regulation, as restrictive practices and legal obstacles continue to hamper access to services in several EU ports.

We urge MEPs to maintain the market access chapter, with comprehensive market opening including cargo-handling, noting that the proposal put forward by the Commission foresees the possibility to restrict opening of the market for reasons such as safety.

Freight forwarders, like any customer, also wish to be able to express their views on port developments of vital importance to them, such as hinterland connections and administrative simplification. CLECAT therefore supports the design of a mechanism that ensures that users are heard, but also highlights the need for independent supervision of port managing bodies as a counterweight to their natural monopoly.

CLECAT looks forward to continuing discussions with MEPs on the proposed regulation, and trusts that the pragmatic approach will prevail in the Transport Committee’s work and subsequent negotiations with the Council.