Ready to join us over 3 weeks in Rotterdam for the ESPO conference 2018?

08 May 2018

In less than three weeks’ time, the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO), its members, the European port and maritime community and EU transport policy makers are gathering for the 15th edition of the ESPO conference in Europe’s biggest port, Rotterdam. The event will take place on 31 May and 1 June 2018 in the Onderzeebootloods.

Onderzeebootloods (c) Roos Van de Werk

ESPO conferences are more than a conference! For those who have never joined us before or for those who want to have an idea of what to expect this year, we are happy to give you an insight into this year’s event:

The theme: “Investing in the port of tomorrow”: What are the main drivers for ports to invest? What are the possible game changers? How to match long investment processes with the rapidly changing supply chain needs? Can port authorities drive the change or are they driven by changes? How to build a strong case for further port development? Which are the most appropriate sources of financing for port investments? How to make ports champions of change? These are the main issues to be discussed during this two-day conference.

Inspiring speakers: Also this year, the ESPO conference will feature a quite impressive line-up of both high-level and “off the beaten track” speakers and experts who will enter into debate with the ports. It is worth checking the final programme and list of speakers on

A hands-on conference: This year’s conference follows the adoption of Europe’s budget proposal for 2021-2027 and will come just before the publication of the new Connecting Europe Facility proposal, the financial framework for support for transport investments. It will offer a unique opportunity to hear more about these proposals by one of its architects, DG MOVE’s Director Herald Ruijters, the TEN-T coordinators and Members of the European Parliament. Moreover, representatives of INEA and EIB will give an overview of do’s and don’ts when applying for support for investments.

Everyone is there! ESPO conferences offer unique network opportunities for everyone who works in, around or with ports. With more than 150 port managers, it is a unique opportunity to reach out to the port and maritime sector.

The conference venue: Ever had a conference in a submarine hall? This year’s conference is taking place in the recently renovated Onderzeebootloods, an impressive hall where submarines slipped off the ramp in earlier days. The hall has retained its raw and industrial character and is situated in the middle of the port, on the Maas river side. No better way to life the real port experience!

Dinner in the Laurens Church: Delegates will be invited to a very exclusive conference dinner in the remarkable historic setting of the Laurens Church. 

The port excursions: On Friday afternoon, you will have the opportunity to participate in one of the very original and inspiring port excursions, especially set up for the conference guests: do you want to see what a high tech spider can do for a port? Ever wondered how heavy equipment is lifted, moored, towed? Or want to know the latest state of the art in maritime simulation? Or do you prefer to join the mooring people on a boat tour and see how innovative they operate? No need to decide now, just decide on the spot.

The new Capital of Cool: The 2018 Conference is taking place in Europe’s new capital of cool, the city that “makes it happen”, Rotterdam. If you love architecture, Rotterdam is definitely worth while a visit. For those who want to spend some more time or the weekend in Rotterdam, do not miss the amazing exhibition Hyperrealism Sculpture taking place at the Kunsthal.

There will also be art at the conference venue: The Dutch port painter Sasja Hagens will be exhibiting a selection of her work on a 10-meter wall inside the Conference hall. Since 2016, Hagens has been working together with ESPO in designing the ESPO Award.

Rotterdam Sunset, (c) Sasja Hagens

The Port of Rotterdam: Our host, the Port of Rotterdam, will undoubtedly do everything possible to live to its reputation as Europe’s biggest port. Last year, the port reached a new record with 467 million tonnes, over 40% more than 15 years ago when it hosted the first ESPO conference. Nowadays, Rotterdam is very much engaged in the transition to sustainable energy and is committed to digitalisation in order to make the port and the supply chain more efficient.

A European Maritime Day event: The ESPO conference 2018 has been recognised as local EMD event. The European Maritime Day is the annual meeting point for Europe’s maritime community to network, discuss and forge joint action. The ESPO conference will allow to mark the EMD in Rotterdam.

Conference hotels are getting full, so, for late comers and those who hesitate, do not wait any longer if you want to be part of this unique ESPO Conference edition!

Programme and practical information:

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