Approval of Port Regulation: time to reset priorities for the EU Port Policy

14 Dec 2016

Today the European Parliament gave its final OK to the Regulation on  Framework for the provision of port services and financial transparency of ports. 

In his speech delivered in Plenary on 12 December rapporteur Knut Fleckenstein expressed satisfaction with the text, which is the result of lengthy negotiations between the European Commission, Parliament and Council. “Fifteen years after the first attempt to liberalise EU ports we have agreed on a text that does not liberalise ports and does not introduce self-handling. Even if it is not this regulation that will solve the social problems affecting EU ports, we have set the basis for future work” he said. 

The rapporteur particularly emphasised the importance of training and explained why he decided to have it in: “I have visited several ports in Europe, and in some of them I have witnessed subcontractors who don’t apply training standards and social legislation. I warn the Commission that liberalisation of training is not the right way to be taken” he concluded. 

Commenting on the vote, ETF Dockers’ Section Chair Terje Samuelsen declared “Indeed, we would have preferred a more stringent text, notably on the protection of workers in case of change of operator and on the good repute of the operators. 

“As we have already stated in the past, we appreciate the work done by Mr Fleckenstein and his team who managed to negotiate substantial improvements in a political context that is certainly not favourable to unions’ demands. It is crucial for us that the attack on the right to strike, which was very dear to the former Transport Commissioner, has been removed from the text” he continued. 

“In line with what declared by Mr Fleckenstein during the Plenary meeting, we reiterate the importance of Article 14, which is the result of an agreement between ETF and FEPORT. The rapporteur was very clear on the reasons behind this article. We are determined to block any attempt to manipulate article 14 in order to take the liberalisation agenda further,” he concluded. 

Torben Seebold, ETF Dockers’ Section Vice-Chair added “We agree with Mr Fleckenstein’s analysis: the regulation sets the basis for dealing with some crucial issues that ports are facing and that have not been properly dealt with so far. For instance, we need a social policy to cope with automation, we need to link state aid to the maritime sector at large to the creation of European employment, we need a sound investment policy able to limit overcapacity. Regrettably, the latest proposal for amending the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER) failed to address these challenges, besides being incoherent with the Port Regulation. This make us fear that the EU port policy has no bright outlook.”