The ETA’s Executive Committee has repeatedly rejected the European Commission’s
initiative to launch a “Port Package III” by way of a new Regulation proposal on market access
to port services and financial transparency of ports.

In its 2013 Position Papers (find here and here) the ETA reflected the outcome of its 82
members’ consultation operating in the TEN-T and other European ports within 21 European
countries. The ETA underlined the towage industry’s continuous efforts to respond to the
evergrowing demands of its customers, the shipping industry and terminal operators by heavy
investment in more powerful tugs, capable of handling ever larger vessels, requiring
assistance from fewer tugs.

While European harbour towage providers are facing a very competitive environment in ports
where the market size is large enough to attract several operators, the ETA members are
firmly convinced that this legislative’s intervention would not enhance competition but would
put at risk the sustainability of their investments, inhibit further investment and consequently
seriously threaten safe port operations.

In the meantime, over 540 amendments have been tabled prior to the vote in the Transport
Committee of the European Parliament (“TRAN”) which was adjourned in 2013 before the
European elections and the appointment of the new European Commission.

Meanwhile, the European Council of Ministers has agreed on a Resolution which leaves out
dredging from the scope of the Regulation and lets towage and mooring covered by the
provision on market access, contained in Chapter II. Pilotage coverage by these provisions
is left to the judgement of the Member States.

The newly composed TRAN Committee, now chaired by MEP Michael Cramer (Group of the
Greens/European Free Alliance), is not expected to put the matter on the agenda before next
December.It remains to be seen which will be the policy of the new Commissioner for
Transport and Tourism Mrs Violeta Bulc with regard to furthering of the legislative procedure
by way of a compromise, which the ports (ESPO) called “a half full/half empty glass “.

 

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