HISTORY

In 1974, the European Commission set up a Port Working Group, consisting of port authority representatives from Europe’s major ports. Early 1993, the European Sea Ports Organisation was born out of this working group, as an independent lobby for seaport interests. Founding Chairman was the late Ferdinand Suykens, former director-general of the Port of Antwerp. During its initial years of existence, the organisation established itself in Brussels, focusing on a variety of policy and technical issues. Significant initiatives were the publication of the first Environmental Code of Practice in 1994 and the establishment of EcoPorts a few years later.

The debate on the European Commission’s ports package, which was issued in 2001, marked a kind of ‘coming of age’ period for ESPO. It made members reflect and become more conscious about their role as port authorities and it strengthened the internal cohesion of the organisation.

In 2009 ESPO set up a joint office with EFIP, the European Federation of Inland Ports.

ESPO’S ROLE

Based in Brussels, the European Sea Ports Organisation ensures that seaports have a clear voice in the European Union. ESPO represents the common interests and promotes the common views and values of its members to the European institutions and its policy makers.

  • ESPO assists its members in gaining a better understanding of policy initiatives of importance to the sector.
  • ESPO assists European policy makers in better understanding the role and importance of port authorities, based both on its extensive knowledge of the sector and on reliable information and data.
  • ESPO is also engaged in a continuous dialogue with all European stakeholders in the port and maritime sector.
  • Finally, over the years, ESPO has turned into a unique knowledge network of European port authorities.
  • ESPO was created in 1993.

MISSION STATEMENT

Our mission is to influence public policy in the European Union in order to achieve a safe, efficient and environmentally sustainable European port sector, operating as a key element of a transport industry where free and undistorted market conditions prevail, as far as practicable.

KEY OBJECTIVES

  • Ensure that the economic importance of European ports is recognized in the European Union and its Member States and that the sector is heard on any measure likely to affect it;
  • Promote free and fair competition in the port sector;
  • Ensure that European ports play their full part in delivering economic efficiency;
  • Promote the highest possible safety standards in European ports;
  • Encourage ports to be proactive in protecting the environment.

MEMBERSHIP

ESPO membership consists of port authorities, port administrations and port associations of the seaports of the European Union and Norway. The organisation is furthermore open to observer members from countries neighbouring the EU.

The membership structure is organised on national level and finds its reflection in the General Assembly of the organisation where each member country has three official delegates with voting rights (and in some instance official proxies) and neighbouring countries have one observer delegate each. Each member country also has a formal delegate in the Executive Committee, which is the daily policy-making body of the organisation.

Chairman and Vice-Chairmen

The General Assembly elects a Chairman and two Vice-Chairmen for a mandate of two years. For the period 2016 – 2018 these are:

Eamonn O’Reilly
Chairman (Ireland). Eamonn O’Reilly is Chief Executive of the Port of Dublin
Annaleena Mäkilä
Vice-Chairman (Finland). Annaleena Mäkilä is Managing Director of the Finnish Port Association
Bernard Mazuel
Vice-Chairman (France). Managing Director of the French Ports Association

MEMBERSHIP OVERVIEW

The following national port associations and port administrations are members of ESPO: Bulgarian Ports Infrastructure Company, Croatian Ports Association, Cyprus Ports Authority, Danish Ports, Finnish Port Association, Union des Ports de France (UPF), Hellenic Ports Association (ELIME), Irish Ports Association, Associazione Porti Italiani (Assoporti), Transport Malta, Norwegian Ports, Association Ports of Portugal (APP), Administraţia Porturilor Maritime S.A. Constanţa, Puertos del Estado, Ports of Sweden, British Ports Association / UK Major Ports Group. The following port associations and port administrations are observer at ESPO: Associated Icelandic Ports and Israel Ports Company (AIP).

The following members countries are represented by their ports directly: Belgium, Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland and Slovenia.

see overview

HOW ESPO WORKS

The membership structure is organised on national level. Each member country has three official delegates with voting rights in the General Assembly. Neighbouring countries have one observer delegate each.

Each member country also has a formal delegate in the Executive Committee, which is the daily policy-making body of the organisation. The General Assembly elects a Chairman and two Vice-Chairmen for a mandate of two years.


Technical expertise and advisory input comes from the technical committees and networks on topics as diverse as port governance, intermodal transport, logistics and industry, sustainable development, marine affairs, trade facilitation, customs and security, economic analysis and statistics, cruise and passenger port issues, labour and operations and legal issues. These specialised committees and networks are made up of and chaired by experts from the member ports and are co-ordinated by ESPO staff.

The recommendations of the technical committees are submitted to ESPO’s Executive Committee which takes the final decision.

ESPO – The European Port House | Treurenberg 6, 1000 Brussels Belgium

THE SECRETARIAT

ESPO’s Permanent Secretariat in Brussels ensures the communication between the European institutions and the ports throughout Europe and is responsible for the general management of the organisation.

The day-to-day work of the secretariat is overseen the Secretary General, Isabelle Ryckbost, who ensures that the priorities of the Executive committee are addressed.

Isabelle Ryckbost
Secretary General
Sotiris Raptis
Senior Advisor Environment and Safety, EcoPorts Co-ordinator
Alexander van den Bosch
Senior Advisor Energy and Industry Policy
Eugenio Quintieri
Senior Advisor Intermodal, Logistics , Social Dialogue, Port Governance
Laurens Schautteet
Policy Advisor Cruise and Ferry Network, Trade Faciltation, Customs and Security
Robin Guillon
Policy Advisor
Cécile Overlau
Finance and Office Manager
Hélène Vancompernolle
Personal Assistant, Events and Communication Manager
Charlotte Max
Management and Communication Assistant
Martina Fontanet
Intelligence Gathering, Economic Analysis and Statistical Issues