ESPO welcomes the recognition of the multidimensional role and cross-border character of Europe’s ports in the TEN-T review

15 December 2021

The European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) welcomes the Commission proposal setting out the new guidelines for the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T). The proposal, which was published on 14 December, lifts the importance of the maritime dimension and the role of ports within the framework of Europe’s TEN-T policy. It defines maritime ports as the entry and exit points for the land infrastructure of the trans-European transport network and, for the first time, explicitly recognises their role as cross-border multimodal nodes which serve not only as transport hubs, but also as gateways for trade, industrial clusters and energy hubs.

Based on a first reading of the proposal, we would like to congratulate the Commission on this proposal, which recognises and reflects the important role seaports are playing in Europe’s transport network. ESPO and its members have always been strong supporters of Europe’s TEN-T policy and the current proposal gives the maritime dimension of TEN-T the place it deserves as an integral and equally important part of Europe’s transport infrastructure, with the seaports as the connecting points,” says ESPO’s Secretary General, Isabelle Ryckbost, in a first reaction to the proposal.

While ensuring the stability of the current network, the proposal succeeds in adding some important missing connections and nodes to the network. European ports especially welcome the inclusion of all maritime links in the dimension of the European Maritime Space (former Motorways of the Sea). By enhancing the maritime links with Ireland and expanding a Corridor across the Western Balkans, the proposal reflects Europe’s current connectivity needs. The alignment of the Rail Freight and TEN-T Corridors are also an important step forward.

European seaports welcome moreover the new focus on the resilience of the network. Not only climate resilience plays a crucial role to make port infrastructure future-proof, cybersecurity and diversionary lines in the hinterland are also a main priority of ports. As critical infrastructures, Europe’s ports also note with interest the different proposals to strengthen the tools to assess any risks to security or public order.

On a more critical note, ESPO regrets that pipelines have not been considered as part of Europe’s Transport Infrastructure. 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.

We will now look further into the details of the proposal, the annexes and maps on the table, but we consider the proposal as a solid and good basis to work on with the Commission, Parliament and Council,” adds Isabelle Ryckbost.

The Commission TEN-T proposal and annexes can be found here.

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