EUROPE ADOPTS PLAN TO LIBERALIZE PORT SERVICES
The European council of transport ministers on Monday adopted a proposal to liberalize port services.
A European Competition directive before the council meeting aimed to open ports to more competition among providers of cargo-handling and ancillary port services, and was heavily criticized by port organizations and unions.
The EU ministers adopted a watered-down version of the European Commission proposal. The requirement that each port has at least two providers of port services has been dropped.
“This proposal for a directive is aimed at establishing clear rules and establishing an open and transparent procedure for access to port services,” said Loyola de Palacio, the European Commission vice president in charge of transport and energy.
De Palacio welcomed the common position reached by the council of ministers.
“Whereas previously a single, monopolistic service provider, in many cases publicly owned or controlled, was the rule, competitive market forces have gained ground and the public sector has been pushed back,” she said.
The proposal allows “self-handling,” where a port user provides for itself one or more categories of port services.