Freight News, Sea

Think again on ports plan, MEPs told

[ November 6, 2013   //   ]

The UK Major Ports Group has called on MEPs to withdraw or suspend the proposed regulation on liberalisation of port services to allow time to assess the question thoroughly. The mainly private sector UK ports, supported by others, including Rotterdam, are unhappy at the European Commission’s plans to impose detailed transparency obligations on pricing and obligations to consult with supervisory authorities or a users’ committees on rates every year.

The Commission’s proposal intends to allow freedom to provide services as a general principle for a range of services, such as pilotage, towing and bunkering, but not cargo handling, in the face of opposition from the dock workers’ union.

UK Major Ports executive director, Richard Bird said that the regulation would interfere in areas where the market works very well and called for more flexibility. He said: “The proposed regulation shows too little regard for the diversity of port infrastructure throughout Europe. A blanket regulation approach as advocated by the Commission does not sufficiently take variations in port structure into account, nor is there credible flexibility for member states to choose the system best suited to local needs. It is a straightjacket rather than a toolbox and that will put investment at risk.

“We strongly support unsubsidised competition and free market access but this regulation is not the right way to go about it as it clearly jeopardizes progress already made in several countries.”

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