EU Taxonomy should align with already defined sectoral sustainability criteria and recognise the seaports’ decarbonisation and greening strategies
European ports fully endorse the idea to help private investors to prioritise green and sustainable investments by providing them a clear manual with common definitions. But they however ask the Commission and relevant policy makers to respect the sustainability requirements and funding priorities put forward in sectoral legislation when using the EU taxonomy framework as a basis for public funding and financing instruments.
The Trans-European Networks in the fields of transport, energy and digital and the Connecting Europe Facility are the outcome of a complex legislative process. The EU taxonomy should not create another layer on top of the priorities set in such sectoral legislation and should not overrule the established funding requirements and eligibility criteria for EU funded projects. By introducing another layer of requirements and definitions, the taxonomy framework will add on complexity and confusion for ports and other project promoters, which are preparing and/or submitting investments projects.
Where no sectoral requirements are in place, ESPO recognises the added value of technical screening criteria to assist investors to promote and facilitate sustainable investments. ESPO pleads in that case for technology neutral definitions of sustainable economic activities and investments and asks to include transitional and enabling activities, which provide short- and medium-term solutions on the path towards climate-neutrality.
Moreover, when setting any technical requirements ports should be considered in a holistic way. Ports are more than a component of maritime transport. They are clusters of transport, energy and industry. They are in many ways a strategic partner in Europe’s ambitious decarbonisation agenda. Many activities and related investments directly or indirectly contribute to making the Green Deal happen. Investments in ports aiming at facilitating the decarbonisation of the port, including its diversity of stakeholders and activities should thus be considered sustainable as such.
Finally, given the political impact of EU taxonomy in its current status, ESPO strongly advocates that the delegated acts which will prescribe the technical screening criteria are developed in a fully transparent way in close cooperation and consultation with all relevant stakeholders. They should take into account EU sectoral legislation, as well as Member States’ priorities, in a comprehensive and coherent way. They cannot be seen as a mere technical exercise.
“Ports fully subscribe to the Green Deal ambitions and are ready to be a partner in the implementation. European Ports invest both in infrastructure and instruments to facilitate the greening and decarbonisation of the port and its stakeholders. But, at the same time, ports are investing to develop new activities which in themselves will contribute to implement the Green Deal agenda: circular economy and carbon capture and storage projects are good examples of this. We therefore hope that the clear priorities set out in EU funding mechanisms, such as the Connecting Europe Facility, remain valid and are not overruled by the taxonomy framework. Secondly, we must hope the taxonomy’s screening criteria are not curtailing the ports’ decarbonisation paths or ignoring the positive effects of clustering transport, energy and industry ”, comments ESPO’s Secretary General Isabelle Ryckbost.
Read here ESPO's statement on the process towards an EU taxonomy for sustainable investments.