Page 35 - European Energy Innovation - autumn 2017 publication
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Autumn 2017 European Energy Innovation        35

                                                            EUROPEAN PORTS

Increasingly, there is investment in both      by and to the different authorities. If       need to secure their “licence”, ports
ports and terminals within ports from          not the single window will not be a           must assure the people living around
international sources outside the EU.          facilitator of maritime trade, but will just  the port and society as a whole that
This is a relatively recent phenomenon         move the burden from ship to shore.           their operations and investments are
and, while welcoming the availability                                                        sustainable. But how far should this
of investment from all sources, we             At the same time we believe that much         engagement go?
have to be careful not to cede control         can – and has to - be done in the field
over essential and critical European           of harmonisation and simplification           Be it on decarbonization, air quality or
port infrastructure of general interest.       of formalities. Asking the same data          protection of our oceans, European
If foreign governments are looking at          elements in the same way should               ports are very keen on helping to
European ports as strategic assets, it is      become the principle. We should               address the issue and to engage and
time for Europe to do the same.                also dare to question the need for            even invest in solutions. Within ESPO
                                               certain formalities or the modalities for     we support this engagement, whereby
Our second priority is facilitating            providing these formalities.                  some ports are really punching above
maritime trade. European ports are very                                                      their weight. I believe however that
keen to see the administrative burden,         These efforts have to be made                 this voluntarism should not be abused
which characterizes maritime transport         together with all authorities and all         by turning it into a law. It should not
still today, reduced. We are very much         legislators, national, European and           come instead of policy options tackling
aware how alleviating this burden              international. In this discussion we          the real causes of the problems and
would take away one of the only                should not confuse the recipient of           applying the polluter pay principle.
disadvantages of EU maritime transport         the information with the authorities
nowadays. Increasing the share of              using and needing the information.            The last decades, European ports have
maritime transport in the transport of         We should not overestimate the role           already been faced with important
goods within Europe and increasing the         of port authorities. We should address        economic swings. Despite the fact that
efficiency of maritime operations and          the users of the information and look at      political decisions, authorisations and
operators would be a big step towards          the policy requiring the data. Finally, we    often burdensome procedures prevent
a more sustainable supply chain.               should also look ahead and understand         ports to move fast, they have proven
                                               that selling platforms like Alibaba might     to be resilient and dynamic. Let us
The European Commission is currently           become the port clients of tomorrow.          hope that they can further build on this
preparing the ground for developing                                                          resilience to face new incoming waves
a European maritime single window              Last but not least, ESPO and its              of change. l
environment. As ESPO, we can                   members put a strong emphasis on
understand the rationale behind a              their sustainable agenda. 90% of
single window environment if this              European ports are situated in or
interface is reliable and resilient, if it is  close to urban agglomerations. This
more than a mere letter box. The single        implies that ports are very much part
window should have the competences             of their local communities and are part
and responsibility to unfold the data          of their societal concerns and their
set delivered by the shipping line             engagement towards the environment
and dispatch the information needed            and sustainability. Ports in Europe
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