On 21 March, ESPO participated in a public hearing on concessions organised by the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) of the European Parliament. The hearing was held to compare views of industry stakeholders and academic experts on the Commission’s recent proposal for a Directive on the awarding of concessions. This proposal is part of a broader package reviewing public procurement legislation and aims to clarify the legal framework that governs the awarding of service concessions.
Ports are covered by the scope of the proposal, but the extent to which contracts between port authorities and service providers are affected is not clear at the moment. “Especially for contracts that involve the allocation of port land you would have to assess each individual contract to find out whether it is a concession according to EU law or not”, ESPO Secretary General Patrick Verhoeven told MEPs, “This is not a good situation to be in.” In his statement, he further underlined the need for transparency requirements to be proportional and to allow flexibility in modifying contract arrangements, including prolongations where appropriate. “The port sector is a very dynamic one”, Patrick Verhoeven said, “and we feel that the procedural requirements contained in the current proposal could hamper continuity of investment. Whilst we do see the potential added value of a common framework to achieve legal certainty and a level playing field, our final verdict on this proposal depends very much on whether Parliament and Council will be able to make it more proportional.”
Other stakeholders and experts confirmed that the current proposal was too heavy-handed and too close to public procurement, a criticism that several MEPs voiced as well. Especially possibilities to modify concessions during their contract term were seen as being too restrictive. “Renegotiation of concessions is the rule, not the exception”, Prof Stéphane Saussier of the Sorbonne University said. He and most MEPs present however did agree there is a clear need for selection procedures and criteria to be very transparent. In his closing remarks, IMCO Rapporteur Philippe Juvin (EPP/FR) (photo) emphasised that concessions need flexibility, which is why they cannot be treated in the same manner as public procurement contracts. Given their long duration, concessions furthermore need to be easily renegotiable. Mr Juvin however refuted the criticism of some stakeholders that there would be no need for a Directive and that case-law would be sufficient. “As an MEP, I prefer to settle matters through legislation, rather than depending on the decision of the courts”, the Rapporteur said. Mr Juvin will finish his report by the end of April. The deadline for amendments in Committee was set to 21 June. Vote is expected in autumn.
The Directive is meanwhile also being discussed at working group level in Council. Reportedly, a number of Member States, including Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, France and Portugal would be highly critical of the proposal. Countries in south and east Europe would be more favourable. The proposal will be formally discussed at the next Competitiveness Council, which is scheduled for 30 May. Council and Parliament aim to conclude the legislative process in one reading, by the end of this year.
Concessions feature prominently in the review of ports policy that the European Commission (DG Move) is currently conducting. This review is a follow-up to the Ports Policy Communication that the Commission issued in 2007 after the downfall of the port services’ Directive.
The Port Governance Committee of ESPO met in Antwerp on 20 and 21 March to discuss input for the review. Apart from concessions, the workshop looked at port financing, dock labour and technical-nautical services. These topics are expected to form the core of the Commission’s exercise. The workshop programme furthermore featured a dinner at Antwerp’s magnificent Town Hall, where the Committee was welcomed by Marc Van Peel, Vice-Mayor of the City and Chairman of the Antwerp Port Authority. MEP Philippe De Backer (ALDE/BE) (photo) was guest speaker at the dinner. He emphasised the broader context of the review: “I am pleased that European ports will be playing a full role in the Trans-European Transport Networks. A progressive vision on infrastructure is fundamental for an effective ports policy. Ports will become more than ever before the engine of the European economy.” The workshop was concluded with an informal exchange of views with Dimitrios Theologitis, Head of the Ports Policy Unit at DG Move.
“Our workshop confirmed that, for European port authorities, the main added value of a new Commission initiative would lie in elaborating certain parts of the 2007 Communication, notably where it concerns enhancing the level playing field, creating greater transparency and striking a balance between investment continuity and market openness”, said Patrick Van Cauwenberghe, Chairman of the ESPO Port Governance Committee, “This would facilitate the prominent role that ports are expected to play in the TEN-T. However, we do believe that future action from the Commission should duly consider governance diversity and remain proportional to the already competitive nature of our industry.”
As part of the review, the Commission is currently conducting a number of studies, notably on dock labour and the use of pilot exemption certificates (PECs). A wider business survey on the quality and efficiency of port services is expected to be launched early May. In addition, the services of DG Competition are finalising a study on port financing and the use of public funding. The Commission is planning a stakeholder conference in late summer where the results of all these studies will be brought together. It is at this stage premature to anticipate what the concrete outcome of the review will be. This should become clearer towards the end of the year.
The political process on the Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T) package is progressing in both Council and Parliament.
Following Parliament’s first debate on the draft TEN-T guidelines in February, the Council of Transport Ministers reached a general approach agreement on the Commission's proposal on 22 March. Ministers extended the definition of ‘projects of common interest’ to cover any project complying with the requirements for the core and comprehensive network. The Council furthermore decided that the deadlines to complete these networks by 2030 and 2050 are no longer binding. Moreover, Member States may decide independently on the necessary investments. For example, they may refrain from certain projects when the required funds are not available or if projects are not yet mature enough. Furthermore, Member States will no longer be required to completely realise cross-border projects. The Council also agreed to modify the corridor concept. Finally, Transport Ministers decided to renounce the fixed number of countries and transport modes that should be covered by a corridor. Instead, more emphasis should be put on interoperability and cross-border connections. The Council position on the TEN-T guidelines will form the basis for negotiations with the European Parliament, whose approval is necessary before they would take effect. A vote by the European Parliament is foreseen for early 2013. The guidelines, which take the form of a Regulation, could be adopted in the first half of 2013.
The TEN-T package also includes the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) proposal and the Project Bonds initiative. Both were discussed in Parliament on 27 March. The CEF proposal is jointly led by the TRAN (Transport and Tourism) and ITRE (Industry, Research and Energy) Committees. According to the views of the respective Rapporteurs, CEF should encourage private investment in EU transport infrastructure and secure a budget to support growth in Europe. The debate demonstrated that Parliament is very much aware that financial shortcomings and Member States’ debts determine the multiannual financial framework establishing the overall EU budget. MEPs nevertheless emphasised the need to maintain the 31.7 billion Euros for the transport sector under the CEF umbrella. They also addressed the opposition from Cohesion countries to ring-fence 10 billion Euros to be centrally managed by the CEF and used in accordance with the TEN-T guidelines. Coordination between the various funding instruments, as well as their optimal use, was considered a very important, but also a complex, challenge. CEF Rapporteur Dominique Riquet (PPE/FR) underlined that the TEN-T corridors are financial governance tools and should as such remain part of the CEF proposal. An expert hearing on CEF will be held on 24 April, at the next joint meeting of the TRAN and ITRE Committees. Also Council will be addressing the proposal, in the context of the general budgetary framework for 2014-2020. The overall long-term budget is being negotiated within the General Affairs Council and the European Council. Some delegations are pleading for a 10% cut in the overall budget, which would boil down to 100 billion Euros. This would likely have an impact on the TEN-T budget, which is strong competition with other policy areas such as agricultural and cohesion. An orientation debate in the General Affairs Council is foreseen on 24 April. On the third element of the Commission’s package, the EU Project Bonds Initiative, the TRAN Committee agreed with the Rapporteur’s opinion to ensure a quicker implementation of the pilot phase to meet the pressing investment needs in European infrastructures.
The Council agreement on the TEN-T guidelines unmistakably waters down the goal to achieve a core and comprehensive network by 2030 and 2050 respectively. “Although Transport Ministers introduced some valuable amendments, we do regret that ambitions have generally been lowered”, said ESPO Secretary General Patrick Verhoeven, “The deadlines must remain in place and the governance of the multi-modal corridors must be strengthened. The use of European coordinators, corridor platforms and corridor development plans will help to ensure timely and coordinated achievement of the core network. Port authorities should moreover be actively involved. We hope that the European Parliament will strongly defend these views.”
In its TEN-T position paper, ESPO further welcomes the fact that, under the Connecting Europe Facility, proposal grants for works related to rail and inland waterways can go up to 30 and 40% of the eligible cost for actions addressing bottlenecks and cross-border sections respectively. “Given that seaports are one of the principal cornerstones of the new TEN-T framework, we believe that inland transport connections to ports, Motorways of the Sea and the development of ports and multi-modal platforms should equally be entitled to receive grants up to 40% of the eligible costs”, said Patrick Verhoeven, “Road connections should indeed not be ignored, as they are essential for connectivity. Proper investment in them will reduce bottlenecks and related emissions.”
Projects with potential EU added value are now broadly identified as cross-border sections, missing links, multi-modal connecting points such as seaports and major bottlenecks. “We believe that for all pre-identified projects it should be quantifiably demonstrated and measurable why a cross-border section, missing link, multi-modal connecting point or bottleneck has EU added value”, concluded Patrick Verhoeven, “Any funding of a project through the TEN-T budget should be the result of a proven effect that the realisation of the proposed project leads to EU added value, in terms of transport efficiency, sustainability and/or territorial cohesion. We therefore invite the Commission to develop within the TEN-T guidelines a transparent methodology that would justify TEN-T funding. With such a methodology projects with EU added value can justifiably be labelled as ‘projects of common interest’.”
Awaiting the new TEN-T Framework, the European Commission announced on 29 March a list of projects selected to receive over 160 million Euros in EU co-financing under the current TEN-T programme to continue improving transport infrastructure across the EU.
26 projects were selected under the criteria set out in the 2011 multi-annual call, which was published on 28 June last year. This involves 21 Member States whose objectives range from improving viable, regular and reliable sea-based transport services in Motorways of the Sea, to equipping trains and lines with the most advanced version of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS). The grants will also help to mobilise substantial public and private financing.
For Motorways of the Sea, seven projects were selected, worth a total grant of 47.8 million Euros. Four projects were submitted for River Information Services (RIS), all of which were selected, for a budget of 10.2 million Euros. ERTMS gets 103 million Euro, which will support fifteen projects. The projects will be managed by the TEN-T Executive Agency, under the parentage of Directorate General for Mobility and Transport of the European Commission (DG Move).
On 26 March, Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas attended the Transport Committee in the European Parliament to clarify the Commission’s position on the cross-border use of longer, modular trucks, the so-called ‘gigaliners’. The discussion came in the context of the Commission’s ongoing review of Directive 96/53/EC on maximum weights and dimensions of road vehicles. Vice President Kallas informed the TRAN Committee that, following a detailed assessment, the Commission intended to allow the cross-border usage of longer modular trucks under certain conditions.
This announcement triggered a strong reaction from the members of the European Parliament. Some members pointed at the consequences on infrastructure, security, bridges and pollution. Others underlined the impact on rail and waterborne transport. However, some members shared the Commissioner's view that EU Member States should decide for themselves whether or not to allow pilot projects with longer and heavier trucks on their territory. Nevertheless, other MEPs urged the Commission to follow the normal legislative path when addressing such politically controversial issues. Commissioner Kallas admitted that he was surprised about the overall reaction of the Parliament and that the Commission would reconsider its decision.
On 8 March the Council adopted its position in first reading on a draft Directive establishing a single European railway area, following the political agreement reached in December 2011. The draft Directive is a recast merging and amending the three Directives of the ‘First Railway Package’ on the development of European railways, the licensing of railway undertakings and the management of railway infrastructure. The debate on the recast of the First Railway Package, which started in April 2011, launched a gradual opening-up of the railway sector to competition at European level. The purpose of the recast is to simplify, clarify and update this regulatory framework so as to increase competition, strengthen market supervision and improve conditions for investment in the sector.
While agreeing with the objective of the recast proposal, the Council considered a number of its provisions to be too far-reaching or not clear and simple enough. It therefore modified the Commission's proposal, and in particular some of its key parts. Among the changes proposed, the Council cancelled the proposed requirement for the service facility operator to be legally independent from railway undertakings using the facilities and replaced it by a requirement of independence in organisational and decision-making terms, as far as essential service facilities are concerned, while other facilities only have to comply with the separation of accounts. Moreover, this independence requirement does not mean that a separate body needs to be created. In addition, the Council proposed that granting a temporary reduction of the infrastructure charge for trains equipped with the European Train Control System (ETCS) should be optional and not compulsory, as advocated by the Commission and the Parliament. Furthermore, also in contrast to the view of Commission and Parliament, the Council considers that the development strategy to be published by infrastructure managers only needs to be indicative and that no fixed deadline should be set for ensuring that managers' accounts are balanced. With regard to the separation between management and use of infrastructure, the Council is not in favour of further separation requirements and is of the opinion that the issue of a general separation should not be tackled in this Directive. On the other hand, the Council reduced the parts of the proposal for which the Commission should be empowered to act autonomously by adopting delegated acts. Moreover, the Council did not take into consideration the Parliament’s amendments that would introduce substantive changes to provisions of the railway package which remained unchanged in the Commission's recast proposal, since such amendments go beyond the limits of a legal recast as defined by an inter-institutional agreement.
Initial discussions with the European Parliament have already started in order to find an agreement on a final text to be adopted jointly by both institutions at second reading.
On 16 March Monica Grosso (photo) presented her doctoral thesis on improving the competitiveness of intermodal transport at the University of Antwerp. The main aim of her research was to identify the factors that hinder intermodal transport and its competitiveness towards rail and road transport. Dr Grosso assessed transport of goods from the ports of Antwerp and Genoa heading to Basel, Frankfurt and Strasbourg. She analysed the general costs of transport such as fuel price, reliability, flexibility, frequency and transport time. Her findings show that the generalised costs of road transport are considerably higher than any other uni-modal and intermodal solution. However, interviews with freight forwarders demonstrate that companies are still opting for road transport because of the flexibility, frequency of the service and the lower risk of loss or damage to goods.
Dr Grosso’s thesis also analyses the external costs of transport such as environment, congestion and damage to infrastructure. Here as well the costs for road transport are higher than any other means of transport (up to ten times more than for rail transport and seven times more than for water transport) and remains more expensive than the intermodal transport solutions. By taking generalised and external costs together, rail transport is the cheapest mode of transport, followed by inland waterway transport. Road transport remains the most expensive one.
In conclusion, Dr Grosso emphasised the need for more attention to aspects of flexibility and frequency if intermodal transport wants to compete with road transport. On the other hand, promoting intermodal transport can already start by highlighting its assets such as its lower price and its lower impact on the environment through, for example, a European promotion campaign.
As a global industry, the maritime sector should contribute to the global reduction effort of Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) and the International Maritime Organisation is the right body to regulate maritime emissions. This is the core message ESPO gave in its response to the Commission’s consultation on including ship emissions in the EU’s GHG reduction commitment.
“We are especially concerned that a regional scheme at EU level maximizes the risk of changing traffic patterns that would lead to evasion and avoidance of European ports”, said ESPO Secretary General Patrick Verhoeven, “It is easy to imagine that, for instance in the Mediterranean, a ship that currently sails directly to an EU port will choose to call first to a port in the Middle East or North Africa in order to minimise the cost related to any EU regional scheme. Limiting the scope of routes covered to intra EU traffic only would reduce this risk, but it would only have marginal GHG reduction benefits. Furthermore, the impact on the industry, and short sea shipping in particular, would need to be very carefully addressed in that case. All this clearly demonstrates why it is not rational to tackle the impact of a global industry on a global environmental issue on a regional basis.”
At European level, voluntary initiatives can be promoted. In this sense, ESPO supports and promotes within its membership the projects and working groups that exist under the umbrella of the World Ports Climate Initiative (WPCI). ESPO for instance endorses the technical development and standardisation of shore side electricity and the use of the Environmental Ship Index (ESI). ESPO is furthermore in favour of considering the use of speed reductions where applicable, taking into account nautical safety.
High level representatives from the European Union, third countries and stakeholders gathered in Brussels on 26 March to share experiences on Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) and reflect on how they would like to see it develop in the future. In her opening speech, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki said that MSP is crucial for creating an environment in which the maritime economy can grow in harmony with the surrounding ecosystem. Commissioner Damanaki underlined that transparency, stability, predictability and reduced transaction costs are important factors that encourage and accelerate investments and are among the benefits that MSP can bring.
British Ports Association Director and former ESPO Chairman David Whitehead (photo) presented the UK experience on Maritime Spatial Planning. “Making a clear link between MSP and the planning regime is so important. If it works well, MSP should make the planning regime for ports more efficient, delivering decisions more quickly. It should provide a boost to sustainable development”, commented David Whitehead on the added value of MSP. As regards DG MARE’s work on formulating a European framework, he advised the Commission to keep such a framework generic and simple, avoiding over-regulation and leaving room for local implementation by Member States.
The Commission highlighted the need for coherence between MSP and the Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) instrument of DG Environment and referred to the common consultation on both instruments that took place in spring 2011. In addition, it was clearly stated that the Commission does not want to interfere with currently existing Member States MSP practices but rather to ensure that MSP is introduced in all EU Member States and to provide a framework for that. DG MARE’s proposals will be made within the course of 2012.
The UK ports industry has welcomed the publication of a review by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) of how the Birds and Habitats Directives are being implemented in England. Announced in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement of 29 November last year, the review aims at reducing the burden on businesses while maintaining the integrity of the purpose of the Directives. It focuses on the implementation of the Directives rather than seeking any legislative change. The Government published the Report of the Habitats and Wild Birds Directives Implementation Review together with a summary of measures on 22 March. British Ports Association Director David Whitehead said: “This is a welcome review. They are going to look at the guidelines again, at a possible right of appeal and the way that an overriding public interest works all the areas that we are interested in.”
The 1979 Birds Directive and the 1992 Habitats Directives were the first European Union environmental legislation to affect port planning. Since the late 1990s many port authorities experienced difficulties with the Directives, which allowed environmental groups to raise project-delaying objections at any point in the consultation process. Between 5 and 10 years, and in some cases even more, may elapse between the conception of a project and the actual start of construction works. Despite the difficulties, over the last years different approaches and initiatives have led to more acceptable solutions for port authorities and regulators which respect the spirit and the goals of the Directives. Assessing the situation in the UK, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Caroline Spelman, said that no major problems arise in the vast majority of development cases, but added that in those relatively few cases in which problems arise, for one reason or another, there can be unwelcome delays and additional costs for developers, uncertainty for the local communities and the environment, and a risk of clouding the reputation of the Directives as a whole.
Back in 2007, ESPO published its Code of Practice on the Birds and Habitats Directive. Based on the experiences of European port authorities, the Code provides recommendations and guidance demonstrating what can be done with a positive approach within the existing legal framework. The Code of Practice proved to be a major input for the European Commission’s own guidelines on the implementation of the Directives in estuaries and coastal zones, which were published early last year and pay specific attention to port development and dredging.
The European Commission intends to reform the ship recycling industry through a proposal to tighten legislation on shipbreaking. With a new Regulation, the Commission is determined to ensure that European ships are only recycled in facilities that are safe for workers and environmentally sound.
More than 1,000 large old commercial ships, such as tankers and container vessels, are recycled for their scrap metal every year, but many European ships end up in substandard facilities on the tidal beaches of South Asia. These facilities mostly lack the environmental protection and safety measures needed to manage the hazardous materials contained in end-of-life ships. These include asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), tributyl tin and oil sludge. This leads to high accident rates and health risks for workers and extensive environmental pollution.
The new rules, which will take the form of a Regulation, propose a system of survey, certification and authorisation for large commercial seagoing vessels that fly the flag of an EU Member State, covering their whole life cycle from construction to operation and recycling. The principle of the new Regulation would be based on the implementation of the IMO's Hong Kong Convention on ship recycling. This means that European-flagged ships would need to have an Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM) on board and then recycle their vessels at a recycling facility approved by the European Commission. This facility could be anywhere in the world and ship recycling would not be limited to European-based facilities.
Council and Parliament will now start their discussions on the Commission’s proposal.
Positive figures can be reported during the first year of operating EcoPorts as an integral part of ESPO. An increased ports’ interest in using the EcoPorts tools can be clearly demonstrated. Since the launch of the new EcoPorts website in March last year, 60 ports have registered at www.ecoports.com. 42 ports have completed the new Self Diagnosis Method (SDM) checklist online and have achieved in this way the ‘EcoPorts status’. In order to clearly highlight the progress achieved, it is interesting to note that only six ports had completed an SDM in 2010 while 80 ports had completed SDM since 2003 until the integration of EcoPorts within ESPO last year.
The completion of SDM is of utmost importance to ESPO and the port sector overall. This is due to the fact that the data that are provided by ports contribute to the development and up-to-date maintenance of a European benchmark of performance on what port environmental management is concerned. The evaluation of the benchmark over time is then used by ESPO in order to demonstrate progress and positive trends. The EcoPorts tools also include the Port Environmental Review System (PERS), which is the only port sector specific environmental management standard. Eight ports were awarded PERS certification in 2011: Bremen/Bremerhaven, Castellon, Cork, Cyprus Ports Authority, Milford Haven, Peterhead, Piraeus and Thessaloniki. Currently, 14 out of the 42 EcoPorts ports hold a valid PERS certificate and there are 14 ports which are ISO 14001 certified.
ESPO is currently drawing up plans for the further expansion of EcoPorts through the inclusion of further functions within the EcoPorts website that will enhance the principle of ports sharing experiences. A forum function will be introduced while a good practice database is also being developed. In addition, the links between EcoPorts and other ESPO initiatives with an environmental content, such as the PPRISM (Port Performance Indicators Selection and Measurement) project, are being examined in view of upgrading the EcoPorts website as the gateway to environmental information of the European port sector.
The ports of Helsinki, Stockholm and Tallinn have recently sent a letter to the European Commission to raise concerns over border controls taking place on regular ferry lines in the Baltic Sea. As from this year, when vessels in regular traffic are visiting ports both within and outside the Schengen area during one voyage, passengers still have to undergo passport controls between Schengen States.
Early April 2011, a regular ferry line was opened between St. Petersburg, Stockholm and Tallinn. In August the stop in Helsinki was also added to the itinerary. Until now the border controls were carried out only in the first and last ports of Schengen, accordingly in Helsinki for disembarking passengers and in Tallinn for embarking passengers. There were no full passport controls during the trip within Schengen countries from Helsinki to Stockholm and from Stockholm to Tallinn. However, since March this year full passport controls are carried out in every port on the itinerary and for both disembarking and embarking passengers. Considering the functional practice of immigration procedures, the ports in the area were unpleasantly surprised by the requirement to implement new procedures whereby full border control has to be carried out twice in all EU ports. Such regulations may have a negative impact on the passenger numbers and therefore affect the sustainability of the line. Also, it can eventually destroy the new established link between the Baltic cities.
Besides the inconvenience caused to passengers, port authorities also have to bear with considerable costs, changing the current practical and functional traffic scheme in the harbours. The concerned ports in the Baltic Sea consider the EU Schengen rules not to cover reasonably their cases and believe that there must be a solution to avoid such disproportionate long and repeated passport controls during the traffic between Schengen States. The ports of Helsinki, Stockholm and Tallinn have therefore urgently appealed to Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas to raise the Schengen issue in the Commission. The ports hope that the Commission will support them in finding a reasonable solution enabling further development of shipping links between Baltic Sea cities.
On 12 March the winners of the first Smart Mobility Challenge on European multi-modal journey planners were announced. The two winners in the category ‘operational journey planners’ were Idos and Trenitalia, and the winners in the category ‘innovative ideas’ were Penelope Ventures GmbH and SNCF. The initiative aims to promote the development of all-in-one journey planners, going beyond national borders and offering travel options combining different transport modes.
The winners in the ‘operational journey planner’ category received the highest number of votes out of the 12 planners that participated in the e-vote. Idos is a door-to-door journey planner for the Czech Republic and Slovakia. It also provides other cross-border travel connections around Europe by bus and train. It has 66 million online views per month. Trenitalia's journey planner, SIPAX, provides train, bus and ferry connections in Italy and a number of its neighbouring countries. It is complemented by the Viaggiatreno tool for real-time traffic monitoring. It has 3 million daily visits.
The winners in the ‘innovative ideas’ category caught the jury's attention by their acute understanding of the nature of the challenge and development of projects that cover all prospective needs of travellers, including services such as ticketing. The journey planner idea Byebyehello, presented by Penelope Ventures GmbH, convinced the jury with its many innovative elements and a strong team of stakeholders that could make this vision a reality. The company intends to launch the planner in May 2012, starting in Germany. The journey planner idea Mytripset, presented by SNCF, appealed to the jury with an innovative use of social networks to provide content and traffic updates. It also relies on a strong team of partners. The launch is planned in autumn 2012, starting in France.
The winners of the first Smart Mobility Challenge were invited by the Commission to present their ideas and solutions at a meeting of the European Parliament's TRAN Committee on 26 March 2012. They will also be invited to the ITS World Congress in Vienna from 22 till 26 October, in order to foster further discussion about the opportunities and challenges of European-wide multi-modal travel solutions.
On 27 February the European Commission has sent a reasoned opinion to Denmark for obstructing the freedom to provide services on passenger ships. If Denmark fails to inform the Commission within two months of measures taken to ensure full compliance with EU law, the Commission could refer the case to the European Court of Justice.
Directive 2009/45/EC lays down rules for the certification of certain passenger ships engaged on domestic voyages. However, there is no European measure laying down harmonised rules for the certification of ships engaged on international voyages. Therefore, Member States are in principle free to impose the safety rules they see fit on these ships, within the limits of European law. In this regard, applying national safety standards to ships flying the flag of another Member State may be regarded as a restriction on freedom to provide services. Such a restriction may be accepted only if it is justified by overriding reasons of public interest and if that interest is not already safeguarded by the rules the service provider is subject to in the State of establishment. National legislation imposed on service providers established in another Member State must also be appropriate and proportionate.
Denmark systematically requires Dutch sailing ships with more than 12 passengers docking in its ports following an international journey to have a certification under the SOLAS Convention. In so doing, it fails to examine for each of these ships whether the safety rules they are already subject to in the Netherlands would be sufficient to ensure an adequate level of safety.
Early this month, the International Transport Forum (ITF) at the OECD published the March issue of its Statistics Brief, which presents the latest available global freight figures. In the publication, the global freight data collected through December 2011 indicate a continuous macroeconomic stagnation.
The International Transport Forum is an intergovernmental organisation with 53 member countries. It acts as a strategic think tank for transport policy and organises an annual summit of ministers. Its aim is to help shape the transport policy agenda on a global level, and ensure that it contributes to economic growth, environmental protection, social inclusion and the preservation of human life and well-being. The publication ‘Statistics Brief’ offers data and analysis and covers the following topics: global trade and freight, infrastructure investment and maintenance, transport CO2 emissions, road safety and general trends in transport. These data are collected by the Secretariat through a questionnaire and from external sources, including Eurostat, US Census and Japan Customs. National data are seasonally adjusted by the International Transport Forum Secretariat for analytical purposes.
The March issue of Statistics Brief shows that the overall picture for global freight remains weak. Total external trade by sea, in tonnes, has remained stagnant below pre-crisis levels in the United States and EU-27 (-3% and -5%) according to preliminary estimates of goods carried ending December 2011. Imports by sea to the EU area have declined throughout 2011 and were 14% below their pre-crisis levels at the end of the year.
This year, the ESPO Award on Societal Integration of Ports will be in its fourth edition. The Award, which aims to stimulate the sustainable development of European ports and their cities, was established in 2009 to promote innovative projects of port authorities that improve societal integration of ports, especially with the city or wider community in which they are located.
The 2012 competition will be focussing on ‘Youth’, since societal integration of ports also means making future generations of employees, neighbours and other stakeholders aware of what the port sector has to offer. Awareness has to start at an early age and this is why the 2012 edition of the ESPO Award wants to promote projects of ports reaching out to young people, whether these are school children, students or young professionals. A variety of possibilities exists, including educational partnerships at various levels (from kindergarten to university), hands-on experience events, job campaigns and the use of games and multimedia.
European port authorities are warmly encouraged to send their project submissions to the ESPO secretariat by 15 July at the latest. The fourth ESPO Award will be officially handed out during an evening ceremony which will be held on 7 November in Brussels. Terms of reference and application forms can be found on the ESPO website.
More than 120 delegates registered already for this year’s ESPO Conference, which is to be held in Sopot, Poland, on 10-11 May. An impressive range of speakers and panelists lined up under the theme ‘Port Financing and Investment’:
A splendid conference evening with a unique musical prelude and a gala dinner at the heart of the legendary Gdansk shipyard, a relaxing partners’ programme as well as exciting port visits complete the arrangements for the ESPO 2012 Conference.
Registration is still possible through www.espo-conference.com where a full programme and all practical details can be found. It is recommended to book soon as hotels are getting quite full between the ESPO Conference and some other events taking place in the region this spring.
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