From Slovenia united with a clear standing
FEPORT presented a Position Paper on investment needs in ports at the Ljubljana Declaration
FEPORT supports transport coalition request for more budget for transport and wishes to reiterate several key principles which are crucial for attracting private investment in ports.
Local, national and European public authorities have a fundamental role in ensuring the availability of a reliable transport infrastructure. Society and economic activity can only fully develop if an effective and efficient infrastructure is at their disposal. Efforts to build the physical TEN-T network have been significant and need to be supported further to allow effective connectivity at the appropriate nodes, whether through ports, inland ports, dry ports, logistics platforms or rail terminals, it was written in a Position Paper on investment needs in ports presented at the Ljubljana Declaration during the TEN-T Days.
FEPORT considers that in the years to come the EU will face enormous challenges to remain a competitive and an attractive marketplace for investors. Innovative and sustainable transport projects will be essential enablers of growth and societal integration. Therefore, not only must EU financed transport projects be pursued, but they must also have the support of the private sector.
The port association fully supports the call for an increase of the EU Budget for the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) under the next MFF. The completion of the core network by 2030 will require more than 750 billion euro. A significant enhancement of hinterland connections, the removal of bottlenecks, cross-border projects, and the harmonisation of technical requirements cannot be financed by Member States’ financial resources alone.
EU Budget will be crucial. It is indeed essential for the EU not to outsource to the rest of its trading partners its responsibility to finance its strategic transport infrastructure and key assets.
Private companies and investors play a significant role in adding value to the basic infrastructure provided by the public sector.
Over last ten years FEPORT members have already invested 40 billion Euro in equipment, intermodal solutions and training, leading to a significant improvement in the quality of services in ports and beyond ports (i.e. connections to the hinterland and to other modes of transport).
The TEN-T Guidelines Regulation, adopted in 2013, has been a major step forward in terms of elaboration of an integrated network policy versus the past disconnected priority projects’ approach. It has opened up new opportunities for infrastructure development that should allow for a better circulation of cargo and information flows along the different TEN-T corridors.
By setting infrastructure standards and requirements, the TEN-T Guidelines Regulation has provided relevant legislation and policy objectives in various transport sectors, but also introduced provisions for multi-modal infrastructure. The linkage between infrastructure and transport policy development is established at EU level.
Many private port operators are also aiming at establishing positions to access direct port hinterlands to allow operators to offer inland services to their customers. This reinforces the need for a clear division of roles between private and public port stakeholders.
The revision of Directive 92/106 concerning Combined Transport offers a good opportunity to clarify a number of aspects such as precise definitions, uniform transhipment terminal rules and digital services to support intermodal operations, amongst others.
Private port operators are willing to continue their efforts to modernise European logistics chains and to make significant investments, both within ports and in the wider hinterland, so long as risks of overcapacity and cannibalisation are curtailed through continuous consultation and enhanced governance rules.
While in many ports private investments in superstructure already represent a significant part of the overall investment, private port operators are often not properly consulted regarding new project developments that may impact their activities.
Given the fact that investments in additional capacities are, in a majority of cases, designed to be commercially exploited by private port operators, FEPORT suggests that future port development plans are subject to a procedure of consultation (2).
FEPORT recommends that ex-ante evaluations of projects and thorough assessments of market needs, both on the seaside and the hinterland side, are carried out prior to the funding of new capacities.
Current market developments in the liner shipping sector have led to the low profitability of many initial investments in ports. Missing and inadequate links in road and rail are among the other causes of port capacity underutilisation.
In this respect, FEPORT welcomes the intention of the Commission, through the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) for Transport, to focus on cross-border projects and projects aiming at removing bottlenecks or bridging missing links in various sections of the Core Network and the Comprehensive Network.
Detailed and exhaustive feasibility/market studies in relation with hinterland needs/cargo flows Cost and Benefit Analyses (CBAs), which look at all aspects of the relevant market and reflect the evolution of cargo interests’ needs are necessary prerequisites to prevent investments that are not market driven.
To conclude, FEPORT is calling for a real prioritisation of investment in favour of hinterland connections and multimodal projects, including ports, which have a real and evaluated market need.