Europe’s ports see Fit for 55 vote on AFIR and FuelEU Maritime as an important step forward in reaching a solid compromise with Council

20 October 2022

The European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) welcomes the outcome of the Parliament’ vote, on the proposals for the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR) and the FuelEU Maritime Regulation on 19 October.

The EP’s position on AFIR was adopted by 485 votes to 65 and 80 abstentions, whereas the position on FuelEU Maritime was adopted by 451 votes to 137 and 54 abstentions. Parliament is now ready to start negotiations with Member States.

“The greening of shipping is a priority for Europe’s ports. Even if the agreed upon framework will be extremely challenging for ports, the improvements made by the Parliament bring us a step further towards a workable solution. The Parliament clearly understands that the investments needed in ports are important. Both Parliament and Council have made some proposals which will help in prioritising investments in onshore power supply where it makes most sense in terms of emission reductions. We hope that we can assist both Parliament and Council in finding a final agreement based on some practical first movers experience in different ports of Europe”, says ESPO’s Secretary General Isabelle Ryckbost.

The EP position for AFIR strikes a good balance between far-reaching ambition for the greening of shipping and the need for workable legislation.

The compromises for Article 9 in AFIR will ensure that ports provide onshore power supply (OPS) where it makes sense, prioritising ship types that spend long time at berth and that have regular traffic in specific ports (container ships, cruise ships, and ferries). The significant time and investments needed to deploy OPS requires a focused approach in AFIR which is foreseen in the EP position.

Nonetheless, ESPO believes further prioritisation must be made possible for key locations within individual ports, in order to make sure that each installation is used and to avoid creating stranded assets.  This has been recognised in a recital which figures in both the Parliament and the Council text, but should also be further spelled out in the articles.   

The EP position on FuelEU Maritime is a crucial step forward, as it introduces requirements for ships to reduce emissions starting in 2025, and sets out requirements for the use of OPS for container and passenger ships when moored securely at berth in port starting in 2030.

ESPO welcomes the clear support in European Parliament and Council for the scope foreseen in the European Commission proposal to include ships above 5000 gross tonnes (GT) in both files.

The reference made by both Parliament and Council to the need for Member States to provide the grid necessary to make OPS work very well reflects the concern that many ports in Europe have, in particular in the context of the ongoing energy supply crisis.

However, European ports remain concerned about the inclusion of binding requirements for the supply of ammonia and hydrogen in Article 11 of AFIR and in Article 4 of FuelEU Maritime. Given the early stage of development of these fuels, and the need to develop sufficient safety standards for their bunkering and use, ESPO would call for a more technology-neutral approach that promotes and supports the deployment of these fuels, whenever relevant, without introducing fuel-specific requirements.

ESPO remains committed to help policymakers agree an ambitious and coherent framework that delivers the greening of shipping.  

It is now important to move ahead with the trilogue negotiations with the EU Member States in Council based on the well-aligned compromises achieved on FuelEU Maritime and AFIR in order to give ports regulatory certainty as soon as possible.

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