Recently, the port directors Eddy Bruyninckx (Antwerp), Jens Meier (Hamburg) and Hans Smits (Rotterdam) expressed their support in the European Parliament for the further development of a European intermodal transport network.
Particularly rail and inland navigation corridors, of which the three ports are the entry as well as the end points of important corridors, are essential for European transport in the future. The attending Euro MEPs stressed the vital role of ports in this. The three ports believe that the funds which the European Commission will make available should not merely be distributed “politically” among the 27 EU member states. The European funds should be invested in the areas where the largest volumes of freight are concentrated, which means the corridors from the seaports into the hinterland.
The two new proposals of the European Commission, the ‘Guidelines for the development of a Trans-European Transport Network’ (TEN-T) and the ‘Connecting Europe Facility’ were also discussed. The ports fully support the ambitions in the proposals that are aimed at the development of a European multimodal core network for freight transport and that will help to achieve the goals of the White Paper on Transport (with respect to sustainability).
The port leaders expressed their satisfaction with the increased budget for transport infrastructure through the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). However, the budget of € 21.7 billion should be explicitly used for projects in the core network that have a proven direct European added value. Here, the distribution of flows of freight should be taken into consideration.
To conclude, the three ports referred to the research they commissioned to the independent research agency NEA. This study shows that the northern sea ports offer the most efficient route for European container transport. Seven ports in Northwestern Europe handle approximately four times as many containers as the eleven most important competitor ports along the southern coast of Europe. This situation is efficient and can be explained by a combination of marine factors, hinterland factors and external, environmentally-related factors.
Dredging Today Staff, March 8, 2012; Image: HHM / M. Lindner