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Displaying items by tag: ESPO

#NewESPOSecretary -At a meeting of the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) held in the Romanian Black Sea port of Varna, the General Assembly of the organisation today appointed Isabelle Ryckbost as the new Secretary General.

Ms Ryckbost succeeds Patrick Verhoeven in this function who is taking on the position of Secretary General at the European Community Shipowners' Associations (ECSA) this summer.

Isabelle Ryckbost comes with an extensive background in EU policy-making and ports. She worked for more than fifteen years in the European Parliament, where she led the office of Dirk Sterckx, a Belgian MEP who was member of the Committee on Transport and Tourism.

During this period, she worked on a number of port-related files, including the two port service Directive proposals and the maritime safety packages. In 2009 Isabelle Ryckbost joined the port sector as Director of the European Federation of Inland Ports (EFIP), which operates from the ESPO offices in Brussels.

"I very much welcome Isabelle on board", said ESPO Chairman Santiago Garcia-Milà, "We are all confident she will do a great job. Apart from her professional and personal qualities, she is a true insider in Brussels and has an already operational network in our sector. This will ensure a very smooth transition."

"I feel honoured to be appointed as ESPO's new Secretary General. Replacing Patrick is quite a challenge I must say. But, with the support of the members and the assistance of a strong team at the secretariat, I hope to continue the good work of my predecessor".

She added "I look forward to representing Europe's seaports in Brussels. Ports are more than a business sector, they seek to combine economic and public interests. Being the main trade gates to Europe, they have a crucial role to play for our economy and welfare. But at the same time, ports are the driving force of many regions and have a responsibility towards their local community"

"I hope, where possible, to help oiling these engines of growth and, where needed, to protect them. I believe each port in Europe has its role and its place" concluded Ryckbost.

Ryckbost will take up her new function on 1 August. She will become the third Secretary General of ESPO. Prior to Patrick Verhoeven, who led the secretariat for the past thirteen years, the office was managed by the late Pamela Le Garrec.


Published in Ports & Shipping

#EUPortsPolicy – Vice President Siim Kallas, European Commissioner for Mobility and Transport, has announced the publication of a regulation proposal on market access to port services and financial transparency, as well as a new communication on ports policy.

European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) welcomes the fact that both initiatives value the important role that seaports play for the European economy. This complements the Commission's earlier initiative to give ports a central position in the Trans-European Transport Networks.

ESPO is however concerned about the potential implications the regulation proposal may have on the autonomy of port authorities.

"We appreciate that the Commission intends to recognise the central role of port authorities and we support the provisions of the regulation that aim to create greater financial transparency", said ESPO Secretary General Patrick Verhoeven, "At the same time, we are concerned about the competencies that the regulation attributes to other authorities and the impact some of the proposed procedures may have on the commercial freedom of ports and their ability to invest."

The regulation proposal excludes cargo handling and passenger services from market access rules. ESPO believes that an inclusive, non-legislative approach, covering all port services, would have been more balanced and proportional in this respect.

On 29 May, the General Assembly of ESPO will adopt a formal position, prior to the organisation's annual conference in Varna, where the new proposals will be discussed for the first time with industry stakeholders.

In the weeks following the conference, ESPO intends to further analyse the regulation proposal, taking into account the impact on the diversity of its membership.

"We will then formulate a number of concrete recommendations for the forthcoming debate in Parliament and Council. We also look forward to exchanging views with other European stakeholder organisations, to see where we might have points in common", concluded Patrick Verhoeven.


Published in Ports & Shipping

#ShipRecycling – The European Parliament has today rejected proposals to introduce a levy on all ships calling at EU ports that would finance a fund to support sustainable recycling of ships.

The proposal had been introduced earlier by Parliament's Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI).

Instead, MEPs approved an amendment which calls upon the European Commission to submit by 2015 a legislative proposal for an incentive-based system that would facilitate safe and sound ship recycling.

"We welcome the outcome of the vote", said European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) Secretary General Patrick Verhoeven, "We understand the need to create an incentive for shipowners to opt for sustainable recycling, but the side-effects of the levy on the competitiveness of EU ports would have been very negative in terms of traffic evasion, changed ship calling patterns and modal back shift, not to mention the bureaucracy involved with it.

By referring the task to create an incentive-based system to the Commission, there will be time to work out an adequate framework which would match the aim of creating sustainable conditions for ship recycling with respect for international rules and the competitiveness of European ports."

The vote by the EU Parliament is not a final one, it gave a mandate to open negotiations with Council in order to come to an agreement in first reading.


Published in Ports & Shipping

#EuroPortBudget- As previously reported, the EU budget for transport infrastructure projects over the next seven years, has been agreed at €23 billion.

Among the reaction of several bodies, including the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO), is that this is a significant step forward compared to the €8 billion that was set aside for the Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T) in the 2007-2013 period, an amount which member states have fully taken up according to the latest Commission data.

With a cut of one third in the €32 billion initially foreseen for transport infrastructure projects, transport does not appear to be considered a priority sector in the next budget.

But at the same time, the substantial cut that was made compared to the initial €32 billion will seriously affect the implementation of the transport infrastructure plan the Commission has been developing over the last three years, in close co-operation with Member States and stakeholders.

In a first common reaction to this result, European transport organisations EFIP, ESPO, INE, IRU, PDI, ECG, ECSA, ETF, ECASBA, ACI Europe and CER say: "We are satisfied that the transport infrastructure envelope has increased, compared to the current multi-annual budget. Nonetheless, it is a missed opportunity that European leaders decided to cut a growth-stimulating sector.

European President Van Rompuy said the budget must be an engine for growth and jobs in the future. It is high time for national governments and their leaders to realise that transport is the engine of the European economy.

If people and goods cannot move efficiently, growth and economic development are constrained. In our view, transport therefore deserves more than a mere 2.4% share of the total budget."

Even if European transport organisations EFIP, ESPO, INE, IRU, PDI, ECG, ECSA, ETF, ECASBA ACI Europe and CER remain critical about the deal, they believe it is important that the new EU budget plan for 2014-2020 is adopted soon.

"Realistically, the TEN-T core network and the already defined projects of the ten multimodal corridors cannot be fully implemented with such a small envelope. It means that the robust methodology developed by the European Commission to select projects that are essential to the European transport network cannot be applied.

A first come, first serve basis will prevail over the network logic that the internal market so desperately needs. We therefore call on Member States to engage with the European Parliament to make this budget more growth-oriented.

In addition, we fully support Parliament's plea to have a mid-term review in a few years as a way to assess potential reallocations of the budget towards growth-generating sectors like transport. In a similar vein, we agree that a certain flexibility within budget allocations would benefit its overall effectiveness.

Last but not least, a swift agreement on the EU budget will allow for progressing with implementing the new transport infrastructure plan, as outlined in the TEN-T and CEF regulations."

Published in Ports & Shipping

#PORTS NEWS – A major two-day ports conference organised by the European Commission, started today in Brussels, where 400 delegates representing different stakeholders within the port sector are attending.

The aim of the conference is to analyse the current EU policy framework for ports, which is laid down in a communication of the Commission that was published in 2007. The outcome of the review is not decided yet, with options ranging between doing nothing, guidance on application of Treaty rules and full-blown legislation.

"We firmly believe that the European Union has the potential to be a positive force in establishing a renaissance of port management and policy", said European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) Chairman Victor Schoenmakers in his statement at the conference. "This can be done by, on the one hand, ensuring a level playing field and legal certainty, and, on the other hand, fostering growth and development of ports."

Raising the specific challenges of port authorities, Mr Schoenmakers highlighted access to port land as a principal point of attention. "The most important asset that port authorities have is land. The way we give access to that land to operators is therefore essential. Whether we do this through public domain concessions or private land lease contracts is irrelevant.

"What matters is the ability to balance transparency and flexibility when using these instruments. Having clear, but also proportional guidance on the application of relevant Treaty rules is for us therefore an essential element of a common ports policy, next to guidance on State aid and guidance on the freedom to provide services."

The ports policy conference will be followed by a further consultation on the options at hand and an impact assessment. The outcome of the process is expected for spring next year.

Published in Ports & Shipping
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