Page 34 - European Energy Innovation - autumn 2017 publication
P. 34

34  Autumn 2017 European Energy Innovation


Current waves of change
require resilient European ports

By Isabelle Ryckbost (pictured), Secretary General, European Sea Ports Organsiation

    The world is changing rapidly.             Faced with these challenges, ESPO
                Disruption seems to become     is currently focusing on the following
                the buzzword of 2017.          three priorities.
                European ports are facing
    several changes and challenges:            First, ports face a continual challenge to
    increasing vessel sizes, increasing        invest in long-lived port infrastructure.
    market power through both vertical         As it shows in the challenges
    and horizontal alliances, adapting         identified, there are many more
    to climate change and the need for         reasons (environment, security, safety,
    decarbonisation, greening of vessels,      digitalisation, etc.) to build or adapt port
    digitalisation, national budgetary         infrastructure than increasing capacity.
    austerity, increased security challenges,  Even where such investments provide
    geopolitical developments, re-             high societal added value and generate
    emerging economic nationalism, Brexit.     substantial economic returns, they often
                                               have low financial returns for the port
                                               authority. Many essential investments
                                               are impossible because of the nature
                                               of the project or because the port
                                               authority does not have the necessary
                                               financial scale to raise project finance.

                                               It is in that respect, that we continue
                                               to make the case for continued and
                                               increased financial support in a variety
                                               of forms including grants and low cost
                                               long-term debt finance in the context
                                               of the review of the Connecting Europe
                                               Facility, the financial leg of Europe’s
                                               Transport Infrastructure policy.

                                               But there is also another reason for
                                               Europe to invest in efficient, sustainable
                                               and smart port infrastructure in
                                               Europe. Ports are strategic assets not
                                               only as transport node, but also as
                                               nodes of energy and in many cases
                                               also as important clusters of industry.
                                               European ports operate in intensely
                                               competitive environments both within
                                               the EU and with ports outside the EU.

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