Privately-financed ports are engines of growth and fear they will be undermined by a new EU Ports Regulation, which threatens investment, growth and jobs.
Dock workers ‘very much opposed to the regulation’
The UK Major Ports Group (UKMPG) and the British Ports Association (BPA) are urging MEPs to reject the European Commission’s proposal for a new Port Services Regulation when they vote in Strasbourg on Tuesday 8th March, and vote against the Fleckenstein Report.
UK ports wish to see the EU Port Services Regulation rejected by the European Parliament, as it has been twice in the past, because of concerns over the potential adverse impact of the legislation on ports and port workers.
The UK’s port sector is the second largest in the EU. All the ports represented by UKMPG and BPA already operate within a competitive, independent and market-driven sector, providing wide choice to users. The EU Port Services Regulation will have a significant adverse impact on privately financed ports from across the EU.
Meanwhile Britain’s main dock workers union, Unite the Union, are also concerned about the proposal, and remain ‘very much opposed to the regulation’ and are planning on lobbying MEPs in Strasbourg to express their opposition.
Meanwhile Britain’s main dock workers union have also expressed concerns about the proposal, and according to Bobby Morton, National Officer Docks, Rail, Ferries and Waterways for Unite the Union they remain ‘very much opposed to the regulation’. Unite are planning on lobbying MEPs in Strasbourg to express their opposition.
James Cooper, Chair of UKMPG, says:
“Privately-financed ports are engines of growth and they will be undermined by this new EU Ports Regulation if adopted. While the Regulation claims to promote competition, the effect will be to prevent privately-financed ports operating as fully commercial businesses. The ambiguity in the current text is unhelpful, as it creates uncertainty and puts essential future investment, growth and jobs at risk. It is simply not clear how this Regulation will add value to European ports.”
UK ports believe if rejection of the PSR is not possible then they would like to see the necessary exemptions for privately financed ports, already operating in a highly competitive market, included on the face of the Regulation itself.
Andrew Moffat CBE, Chair of the BPA, says:
“If MEPs cannot reject the PSR, we urge them to support an amendment which would clearly and unambiguously remove privately financed ports from the scope of the Regulation, in a way that is entirely consistent with EU law.”
Our key concerns include:
- Private ports may lose freedom to set port charges
The Fleckenstein Report requires ports to set charges in compliance with the terms of the Regulation, with a national supervisory body, or bodies, established or designated, with the power to make binding decisions on charges, ultimately overseen by the European Commission (Articles 13, 14 & 17).
- Could force private ports to put their services out to tender
The Fleckenstein Report imposes a “one-size fits all” model, which risks forcing ports (including those run by private companies or municipalities) to contract out services and appoint at least two service providers, even if only one is required (Article 6).
- Could lead to more unfair competition
The Regulation should not be used as a tool to change state aid policy to favour more unfair state aids. That should be subject to the proper objective and transparent process for these discussions (Recitals 22b and 22c).
- Commercial confidentiality may be threatened
Whilst we support greater transparency in connection with public funding, where there is no public funding, the current text risks undermining commercial confidentiality (Article 14).