An ESPO report analyses the investment needs of 73 European ports.
European ports face will need to invest around 48,000 million euros during the period 2018-2027. It is the conclusion of a study carried out by the Europea Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO), a representative agency of European ports, which was presented in preparation of the new Connecting Europe Facility (CEF II) for the financial period 2021-2028.
The document, prepared by Peter de Langen, Mateu Turró, Martina Fontanet and Jordi Caballé, analyzes the future investment needs of European ports, as well as the ability of ports to benefit from the different financial instruments of the European Union.
“The ports should continue investing in modern, sustainable and well-connected infrastructures,” says the statement by ESPO, which highlights the contribution of ports, “not only as transport network nodes, but also in terms of energy transition, attraction of industry and logistics, passenger connectivity and as critical infrastructures”.
The investment claimed by the report is mainly brought on by external factors, such as the growth of trade flows, new trends in the maritime industry, new environmental requirements, digitalization, automation, urban development and security challenges. “This wide range of investment factors leads to a very diverse range of investment needs,” explains the association.
Despite this diversity, investments in maritime infrastructure and connections to the hinterland represent more than half of the investment projects considered necessary over the next ten years.
ESPO regrets that despite the general recognition of the important role of ports and their various responsibilities, the projects promoted by the port authorities only managed to attract 4% of the CEF funds so far and only one third of the projects submitted received funding.
To change this situation, the report calls for greater strength in this community programme. To this end, ESPO demands subsidies to be an essential component of the financing of port projects with high added value and reduced financial profitability; a well-defined and transparent methodology for defining the EU’s added value, which goes beyond cross-border projects; responsible management of subsidies, through a more rigorous cost-benefit analysis; as well as a long-term vision of funding priorities that allow ports to prepare quality projects. Finally, the organization claims that smaller port projects, which do not involve State funding, do not need the prior approval of the Member State.
“We strongly hope that the study and our recommendations can help the Commission and EU policy-makers to strengthen the CEF II programme by prioritizing the added value of EU port projects,” says the general secretary of ESPO, Isabelle Ryckbost, who considers a new conception of the enclaves necessary in this undertaking. “It is crucial to recognize ports as international infrastructures,” she says. “Less than 10% of the merchandise handled in European ports was domestic traffic. Ports are not only Europe’s gateways to trade with third countries, but they also create value for society that transcends national borders. They are the main link between the sea and the interior and the economy in general, “explains Ryckbost.
For his part, the president of ESPO, Eamonn O’Reilly, says that “investments in the seaports of Europe are essential if you want to achieve critical political objectives in a wide range of political areas of the EU. If Europe’s seaports can not make the investments that are needed, then the key policy objectives of transport, energy and the environment will be compromised. ” In this sense, he assures that, in many cases, “the main benefits of port projects are accumulated for the community and the economy in general, and not for the port authority itself. This is particularly true when ports invest in basic infrastructure to provide capacity for future growth, “says O’Reilly.
Peter de Langen, one of the authors of the report, highlights the contribution of port authorities in the preparation of the report. “The participation of the European maritime ports was excellent: 73 ports, representing more than 60% of the total port volumes of the EU, provided information on some 400 investment projects. As a result, we now have a detailed understanding of the investment needs of European ports, “says the consultant from Ports & Logistics Advisory.
The complete study will be officially presented at a conference organized by ESPO in Rotterdam on May 31 and June 1.
Source: El Vigia