European Council: More Transparent and Competitive Ports

The European Council’s Permanent Representatives Committee today approved new rules to increase the financial transparency of ports and create fair conditions for access to port services across Europe.

It confirmed the agreement reached with the European Parliament on 27 June.

The new rules set out to make ports more efficient and ensure fair competition in this crucial sector that accounts for up to 3 million jobs.

They aim to boost the competitiveness of European ports both in promoting short sea shipping as an alternative to congested roads and vis-à-vis ports located in non-EU countries.

The regulation will apply to over 300 seaports listed in the trans-European transport network guidelines (‘core network’ and ‘comprehensive network’). These ports play a significant role in exchanges between EU countries as well as in EU trade with the rest of the world.

When it comes to the different categories of port services, cargo handling and passenger services will be subject to the financial transparency rules, but are exempted from the access provisions. Member states will remain free to decide how to organize these services, in compliance with Court of Justice case-law.

Member states may also decide to apply the access rules to pilotage services. In such cases they should inform the Commission.

Dredging will only be covered by the rules requiring separate accounts for publicly funded activities.

The reform makes port service charges and port infrastructure charges more transparent. It also increases transparency in the financial relationship between the state, ports and port service operators.