“The European Commission clings to market opening as the miracle recipe to improve ports’ efficiency without taking the reality into account.” That was one of the main messages of Livia Spera, ETF Political Secretary at the public hearing on further liberalisation of port services, organised by the Parliamentary Group GUE/NGL (European United Left/Nordic Green Left) in Brussels on Wednesday 29 January 2014.
The Parliamentary Group set up this public hearing to raise awareness among MEPs and other stakeholders about the negative impact the Commission’s new draft regulation COM(2013)0296 would have on port services. “The European Parliament has to be proud of the rejection of Port Package I & II and we are now asking you to support the resistance against the new draft regulation,” stated the invitation letter to the public hearing.
Why reject the new draft regulation?
Next to speakers from political groups, trade unions and other involved parties, Livia Spera took the floor to elaborate on ETF’s arguments why the new draft regulation has to be rejected. In the view of the ETF, the European Commission is trying to start over the process, following the attempts via the rejected port packages I & II, by tackling the controversial items in different stages, starting with market access to technical-nautical services. Eventually, cargo handling would be tackled next.
She explained why the ETF opposes the Commission’s approach and rationale behind this proposal. The Federation criticises the weakness of the social dimension of the draft regulation and questions the economic viability and the added value of opening of the market for technical-nautical services. Although several MEPs are working towards an improvement of the draft regulation, the discussions amongst the political groups seem at the moment not to make much progress. Attention was raised also on the fact that liberalisation of port labour is currently being dealt with at national level, either through the imposition of liberalisation plans from international financial institutions or via the opening of infringement procedures. She concluded with renewing ETF’s opposition to the proposal and renewed the Federation’s willingness to share its views with the Parliament.
The hearing was attended by several ETF members from Italy, Belgium, Spain, the UK, Sweden and Croatia who took the floor to witness how the regulation would negatively impact the workers employed in the sector.