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American Shipper

European Parliament rejects port liberalization directive

European Parliament rejects port liberalization directive

   The European Parliament on Thursday (Nov. 20) rejected a proposed pan-European port service directive that would have liberalized cargo-handling and pilotage services in the European Union.

   The port services directive was defeated by members of the European Parliament with a vote of 229 votes against and 209 votes in favor.

   The directive, first proposed by the European Commission in February 2001, was supported by shipping lines, shippers and, to some extent, ports, but opposed by unions representing dock workers.

   “The vote against the directive in Parliament… is very disappointing after all the successful progress that we made in improving the original proposal of the commission,” said David Whitehead, chairman of the European Sea Ports Organization.

   The port group said that there was strong union pressure on members of parliament to reject the directive.

   David Cockroft, general secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, welcomed the vote and described the result as “a triumph.”

   The vote was a victory for trade unions and workers “who campaigned so effectively against this hopelessly flawed legislation,” he added.

   Whitehead noted that the future of port legislation in Europe is now uncertain. There is a threat of action against individual ports now that the protection offered by the directive is no longer available, he added.

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