Council further strengthens role of seaports in the TEN-T network

07 December 2022

On 5 December, the Transport Council reached a provisional agreement on the review of the TEN-T guidelines of 2013.

The European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) welcomes the text of the Council General Approach, since it clearly backs the Commission’s approach to lift the importance of the maritime dimension and strengthen the role of ports within the framework of Europe’s TEN-T policy.

While the Commission proposal already recognizes the role of Europe’s maritime ports as cross-border multimodal nodes which serve not only as transport hubs, but also as gateways for trade, industrial clusters and in particular energy hubs, the Council further strengthens this approach by introducing a new criterion to become a comprehensive TEN-T port. Following the Council, on top of the current volume criterion (0.1% of the EU total volume of port cargo), a port can also be part of the comprehensive network if “its total annual cargo volume (bulk and non-bulk) exceeds 500.000 tonnes AND its contribution to the diversification of EU energy supplies and to the acceleration of the roll-out of renewable energies is one of the main activities of the port”.

Currently the importance of a port in TEN-T is measured on the basis of tonnes and TEU. We welcome the proposal of the Council to also consider the role ports are playing in energy diversification and the roll out of renewables. On average 40% of the commodities going through Europe’s ports are sources of energy. Ports play an increasingly important role in ensuring both the supply of energy and the acceleration of the energy transition. This important role certain ports are playing cannot always be measured in tonnes or TEU. Yet it is essential to consider these ports in the TEN-T, being part of a critical and important supply chain,” says ESPO’s Secretary General Isabelle Ryckbost.

Looking at the many amendments tabled in the Transport committee of the European Parliament supporting this more multidimensional and strategic role of ports, ESPO hopes that this criterion will also be integrated in the compromises of the Parliament and be part of the final text.

With regards to the rail requirements agreed in the Council, ESPO believes that further steps can be made to ensure a better last mile connectivity to ports while respecting the specificity of port-rail systems. The complexity of rail infrastructure and heterogeneity of its governance inside European ports makes it necessary to adopt the roll-out of rail requirements accordingly.

We hope that the Parliament can play a role in finding a suitable compromise between the Commission proposal and the Council text agreed on Monday,” adds Isabelle Ryckbost.

Finally, ESPO welcomes the reference made to pipelines both in the recitals of the agreed Council text as well as in multiple amendments tabled by the Parliament. For Europe’s ports, pipelines will increasingly play an essential role in the implementation of Europe’s decarbonisation agenda and will be a necessary mode of transport for new energies.

The Transport Committee of the European Parliament will be discussing the 1872 amendments on the Commission proposal on Thursday morning, 8 December.

European ports remain committed to work with both the Commission, the Parliament and the Council in further explaining the role ports play and can play in TEN-T.

The text of the Council General Approach can be found here

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