29 May 2018
As the European ports industry gathers in Rotterdam this week for the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) Annual Conference, the British Ports Association has urged the UK Government to ensure that public transport and infrastructure funding are increased post-Brexit to help UK freight operators and ports compete. As the Article 50 discussions continue there is still no clear picture if the UK will look to prioritise investment in the transport network or replicate EU funding models. The Association is keen that UK policymakers push pro-investment transport strategies in a similar way to the TEN-T programme or even to mirror schemes such as the Motorways of the Sea programme and the European Maritime Fisheries Fund.
Speaking on the eve of the ESPO Conference the British Ports Association’s Chief Executive said:
“The UK ports industry is a competitive sector. What our ports look for is an efficient planning system and a good national transport network. In recent weeks a number of European transport associations have come together to call on the European Commission to increase transport budgets in the Connecting Europe Facility for the 2021-2027 period. UK policymakers should not overlook TEN-T and indeed examine ways to increase investments in our transport network. It is essential for logistics operators that the UK has an efficient transport and freight network and that our ports are able to compete globally.”
The Ljubljana Declaration was presented to the European Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger, by the MFF4Transport coalition at the TEN-T Days event last month and a recent study for ESPO has highlighted the infrastructure needs of EU ports. This was shortly before the European Commission published its Multiannual Financial Framework for the 2021-2027 period which is expected to be the first EU budgetary term without the UK. Mr Ballantyne continued:
“In the coming years, it is likely that the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility will be used to target the hinterland network connectivity challenges for many European ports and it will be important that the UK is not left behind. There has rightly been much attention on the potential impacts of new border controls on some UK-EU routes but other factors such as long-term post-Brexit transport plans and infrastructure investment should not be ignored. The UK Department for Transport recently published the results of its Port Connectivity Study which highlighted that ports are often not factored into transport and wider Government decisions. This must be corrected. Ports are vital international gateways and they will have an important role facilitating our new post-Brexit trade strategy so it is essential that they are well connected to national networks and markets.”
The 15th ESPO Conference is hosted by the Port of Rotterdam and takes place on 31 May and 1 June. The theme of the Conference is ‘Investing in the Port of Tomorrow’ and Mr Ballantyne is chairing the session on port developments at the event. The ‘Building Acceptance for Further Port Development’ session examining sustainable growth, stakeholder relations and cost-benefit analysis for ports.