Cruise and ferry port network

On 17 September 2014, ESPO signed a strategic co-operation agreement with different organisations (Cruise Baltic, Cruise Europe, Cruise Norway, Cruise Britain and MedCruise). The aim of the agreement is to establish ESPO as the official voice of the cruise and ferry port authorities when dealing with the EU institutions and to build further on the work of ESPO’s passenger committee that was set up in 2010. On top of that, the network will function as a platform where knowledge and good practices in the field of cruise and ferry can be shared between authorities. 

ESPO Code of Good Practices for Cruise and Ferry Ports (2016)

In January 2015, a Passenger Port Review was launched within the Cruise and Ferry Port Network. The review mainly aimed at identifying the key challenges European cruise and ferry ports are facing. In total, 119 cruise and ferry ports situated in 24 different European countries completed the survey. On the basis of the outcome of this exercise ESPO identified the five main challenges for cruise and ferry port authorities in Europe: the port-city relationship, infrastructure, cooperation, relation with the cruise and ferry lines and security. Subsequently, on the basis of these challenges, five thematic working groups were established, containing representatives of port authorities and associations from all over Europe. In each working group both the ferry and the cruise port sector were represented. The working groups each drafted a paper on their respective challenge. The ESPO secretariat then compiled and edited those contributions which ultimately led to the Code of Good Practices for Cruise and Ferry Ports. 

The ESPO Code of Practice for Cruise and Ferry Ports is available here

Tangible examples of good practices that were developed in European cruise and ferry ports were compiled in an additional publication. The examples of good practices are structured along the lines of the challenges listed in the Code of Good Practices for Cruise and Ferry Ports. This publication is dynamic and will be updated regularly with new examples of good practices. 

The Good Practices can be consulted here.  


During the last decades port-city relations have clearly been changing, because both the ports and the cities have changed. Ports have been facing a serious scale increase starting with the industrial revolution at the end of 19th century. As a result, ports have been obliged to expand, and have been pushed outside the city area. At the same time, cities have changed. During the last decades urban waterfronts have been rediscovered. They have evolved towards trendy areas where fancy lofts, expensive office buildings, recreational areas, posh bars and restaurants are struggling to have their place by the water.

Since 2009, ESPO has been proactively working on improving this challenging port-city relationship with a view to improving the societal integration of ports.

ESPO Code of Practice on Societal Integration of Ports

In 2010, ESPO developped the ESPO Code of Practice on Societal Integration of Ports, with the aim of raising awareness among port authorities about societal integration, giving insight in the tools to use in view of getting public support, giving recommendations on how to responding proactively to this challenge. The code has defined three different target groups: the general public, people who work or could work in a port and finally people living in and around ports. The ESPO Code of Practice has developed ten concrete recommendations. The Code of Practice on Societal Integration of Ports is available in English and Spanish.


To promote the efforts made by different European ports to enhance the city port relations through innovative projects, ESPO decided in 2009 to give out an annual ESPO award on Societal Integration of Ports. After the two first editions, it was decided to focus each year on one different aspect of societal integration.

The themes addressed so far are: Creative Strategies to Communicate the Port to the Wider Public (2011), Youth (2012), Heritage (2013), Innovative Environmental Projects (2014), Relationship with Schools and Universities (2015), Nature in Ports (2016) and Art and Cultural involvement of the port (2017). Every year, the winner is selected by an independent jury of international experts. The award is given during a ceremony that takes place in Brussels and gathers more than 200 guests.

More than 140 port projects have been submitted to compete for the ESPO Award on societal integration of ports since its establishment in 2009.

More information


EcoPorts is the main environmental initiative of the European port sector. It was initiated by a number of proactive ports in 1996 and has been fully integrated into ESPO since 2011.

The founding principle of EcoPorts is to create a level playing field on environment through co-operation and sharing of knowledge between ports. Serving the principle of “ports-helping-ports”, EcoPorts is focused on outcomes with applied practical value, namely on tools and methodologies that assist port environmental managers in their daily work. The well-established EcoPorts tools, Self Diagnosis Method (SDM) and Port Environmental Review System (PERS) actively assist ports in their environmental management and are subject to continuous development and refinement.

Each year the EcoPorts network is growing. It now counts around 90 ports from 23 countries.

One third of the EcoPorts members have now acquired PERS, which is the only port specific environmental management standard. Compliance with the PERS standard is independently assessed by Lloyd’s Register and the certificate has a validity of two years. PERS is revised after the 2-year period to make sure that the port continues to meet the requirements.

The EcoPorts tools are available to ports and terminals outside Europe through the ECO Sustainable Logistic Chain Foundation (ECOSLC).

Click here to see to EcoPorts Network. 

Two Ecoports Tools

Self Diagnosis Method (SDM)
The “passport” to the EcoPorts network is the completion of the Self Diagnosis Method (SDM). SDM is a checklist against which port managers can assess the environmental management programme of their port in relation to both the sector and international standards. As such, SDM assists ports in identifying environmental risks and establishing priorities for action and compliance. The data provided by the individual ports help to build up and update the sector’s benchmark of performance in environmental management.

Port Environmental Review System (PERS)
The second tool, the Port Environmental Review System (PERS) has firmly established its reputation as the only port sector specific environmental management standard. Developed by the ports themselves, PERS incorporates the main general requirements of recognised environmental management standards (e.g. ISO 14001), but is specifically adapted to the realities of port environmental management. The scheme effectively builds upon the policy recommendations of ESPO and gives ports clear objectives to aim for. Last but not least, its implementation can be independently certified by Lloyd’s Register.


PPRISM - Port Performance Indicators, Selection and Measurement
With the PPRISM project, ESPO took a first step in establishing a culture of performance measurement in European ports. The two year PPRISM project, delivered a shortlist of indicators that form the basis of a future European Port Observatory.

The PPRISM project which was co-funded by the European Commission, was completed in January 2012. The achievements of PPRISM can be summarised as follows:

  • PPRISM provided a set of indicators that are relevant and both accepted by port stakeholders and detailed in terms of methods for data collection and analysis. These indicators contribute to provide insight into the overall performance of the European port system and, notably, the environmental, socio-economic and supply chain performance, and to provide an updated picture of the port sector in terms of governance models and market structure.
  • The project tested in real conditions the implementation of 14 port performance indicators of the European port system.
  • PPRISM delivered essential data for the development of the first version of the Port Performance Dashboard
  • The project delivered a concrete proposal on how to set up and articulate a European Port Observatory, presenting recommendations on its organisational, process-related and financial characteristics and an implementation plan.
Executive summary of the project available here.
Deliverables available here.

Portopia - Ports are great, let’s show it!
The PORTOPIA project monitors and reports key performance data for European ports and thus assists the industry in moving towards a more sustainable and competitive port system. PORTOPIA will provide facts and figures on different perspectives of port performance: market trends, socio-economic impact, environmental management, occupational health, safety and security, logistic chain and operational efficiency, governance and investment. (